XServ RAID Review
This was originally one post, but I’m breaking it up into a couple because there are a few thing I want to do with it. My workplace entered the world of fibre channel storage yesterday when we got a brand new, XServ RAID in the shop. We had an opportunity to demo this unit when we were considering making the purchase and several features of the system tipped the scale for us.
First, but certainly not the deciding factor was money/value. The closest entry in the low end SAN market was a AX100 from Dell/EMC. We were looking primairly at SATA based storage simply because we couldn’t produce enough capacity to justify purchasing true Fibre based storage. After looking at specs, the comparison on seek times on the XSR vs. CX300, Dell/EMC’s fibre-based storage system was simply comparing apples to oranges. SATA based Fibre storage (it’s confusing if you’re not familiar with the terminology) seemed to be the right pick for us. With that said, I was able to get roughly twice the storage with Apple’s product at roughly twice the stated speed compared to the AX100; and, I was able to get it at 3500 less (YMMV).
This unit was going to replace a PowerVault 220s that started to fail miserably after I realized that, in cluster mode, the ability to service more than a dozen or so concurrent users was pretty small. As an aside, I can think of no more useless product that the PowerVault 220s. A google search will return a ton of people who are dissatisfied with their experiences with the 220s. For us, it boiled down to not being able to do write caching in Cluster mode. Because of that, during peek times of our day people couldn’t copy anything up to the server because it was too busy. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more details.
Speaking of write caching, the two systems are really divergent in how they handle write caches. When you put that ability inside an enclosure like the AX100 or XSR there needs to be some way of protecting it in case of a power failure. For the AX100, the backup is a whole seperate UPS that needs to be plugged into the unit in order for it to run. For the XSR, it is a battery backup module that keeps the write cache running until everything is written. Stated specs say it can run for 72 hours; I’m not sure, but it is internal to the unit and extremely easy to replace/trade out.
Support looked very similar in both situations though for the price I paid for the XSR, I was able to get three years of 4 hour response time support as well as a small parts closet to replace key components (all of which are hot swappable) in no time flat.
End result, we picked the XServ RAID because it was a better product that was cheaper. Likelyhood is that it will go into production sometime early next week.