Storage Magazine - UK
 

PROMISE VTRAK E630FD

From STORAGE Magazine Vol 11, Issue 2 - June 2011

Along with excellent performance, Promise's new VTrak Ex30 appliances score highly for value, as few other storage vendors can come close to this price point.

High performance fibre channel (FC) storage arrays tend to command top prices, but Promise's VTrak Ex30 appliances buck the trend by offering a range of enterprise-class features at an entrylevel price. The new Ex30 family consists of four models, supporting up to 24 high performance 6Gbps SAS drives, plus dual RAID controllers for high availability, and all offer an impressive expansion potential. On test in the lab, we have the VTrak E630fD appliance, which is a 3U chassis, supporting up to 16 hot-swap drives. You have extensive storage choices, as all Ex30 systems support 6Gbps SAS, near-line SAS and low-cost, high capacity SATA hard disks; and you can mix and match them in the same RAID array, if required.

Along with dual hot-plug 80Plus certified power supplies, the E630fD comes with both RAID controllers, running in full active/active mode. Each controller has a healthy 2GB data cache, which is fully protected by hotswap battery backup packs. The data caches are mirrored across the controllers, using a dedicated second generation PCI-Express bus for the best performance. The controllers each have four 8Gbps FC ports and, as they're both active, all eight ports are available for host connections. The extra SAS expansion port on each controller is used to cascade up to seven of Promise's VTrak JBOD arrays, allowing capacity to be increased easily on-demand and with no downtime. Both SAS ports are used to connect the JBOD arrays, allowing faulttolerant paths to the controllers to be created.

Installation is a simple affair, as you just connect the controller management ports to the network and point a web browser at the default virtual IP address. This virtual port combines both physical ports together, so you won't lose management access, if one controller fails.

The freshly designed WebPAM PROe management interface is a slick affair that provides swift access to all storage functions. The home page opens with a smart dashboard, showing a complete overview of system health for all components. Our first task was to create disk arrays that are collections of hard disks used to present logical drives to the storage network. Promise offers automated and express options for quick array creation or you can take full manual control.

Logical drive creation is just as simple and Promise offers extensive RAID options, with mirrors, stripes, RAID5, 6, 10, 50 and 60 arrays on the menu. Promise's PerfectRAID feature keeps a close eye on data integrity, with Media Patrol checking the physical condition of member drives.

If a failure is considered likely, PDM (Predictive Data Migration) automatically moves the data to a spare drive before the original drives dies. GreenRAID offers full power management, and uses idle, standby and stopped times to automatically control disk head parking, reducing spin speed and powering drives off. The appliance delivers an impressive performance and we tested this by introducing it to the lab's 4Gbps FC SAN. We used a dual Xeon X5560 Broadberry rack server, equipped with a Brocade FC HBA and running Windows Server 2008 R2. Its initiator was automatically identified correctly by the appliance, allowing us to map logical drives to it.

Using the Iometer utility, we recorded a top raw read throughput for a six-drive RAID-5 array of 380MB/sec, which is near wire speed for a 4Gbps FC connection. Write performance was just as impressive, with Iometer reporting an average throughput of 300MB/sec. The new VTrak Ex30 appliances deliver an abundance of enterprise-level storage features, with scalability and reliability as top priorities. Along with excellent performance, Promise also scores highly for value, as few other storage vendors can come close to this price point.

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