Editors Choice

Boston Igloo 2U-60T-STOR Review

Boston Igloo 2U-60T-STOR

The majority of business storage products offer NAS and IP SAN services but the mighty Igloo 2U-60T-STOR from Boston (www.boston-worldwide.com) goes one step beyond. Along with a massive capacity, the Igloo presents a truly unified storage solution as it combines NAS, IP SAN and FC SAN operations in the same appliance.

Boston Igloo 2U-60T-STOR generous storage repositoryThe Igloo is a partnership of Supermicro hardware and Open-E’s Data Storage Server (DSS) v7 software. A neat feature of this team is all three storage services comes as standard and the price includes Open-E’s unlimited capacity license so you can expand as much as you want.

The 2U chassis provides 12 LFF hot-swap bays at the front along with an internal four-drive tray located above the motherboard. There’s more as alongside the dual 1kW hot-plug PSUs at the back are two more SFF drives bays which are dedicated to running the DSS software.

The Igloo offers plenty of processing power as it’s equipped with a 2.4GHz E5-2630 v3 Xeon with room for a second if you want. A healthy 64GB of DDR4 memory is also included and this can be increased to a maximum of 1TB.

Storage features

The Igloo has a generous storage repository comprising twelve 6TB WD Enterprise SATA drives. Boston preconfigured these for us as a RAID50 mirrored span and added an extra 6TB drive to the internal tray as a hot-spare.

These are all managed by the motherboard’s embedded Avago SAS 3 RAID controller and value gets even better as its CacheCade feature is activated. A pair of mirrored 240GB Samsung SSDs are fitted to the internal tray and CacheCade uses these to copy hot data to for faster access.

The original data is retained on the existing volumes so won’t be lost if the CacheCade or drives fail and the RAID controller’s 2GB of cache memory is also protected by a capacitor-based backup unit. The SFF drives for the DSS software are handled separately by an additional Supermicro SAS 3 PCI-Express card.

Capacity can be further expanded as required by fitting extra SAS RAID cards and external JBODs. There’s plenty of room as the motherboard has a total of seven PCI-Express slots, five of which are free.

Boston Igloo 2U-60T-STOR rear view

Simple deployment

2U-60T-STOR DDS Software

Storage is configured quickly by creating a logical volume and deciding whether to use for NAS, IP SAN or FC SAN duties

The DSS software is preloaded and after a quick five minute boot-up sequence, we were ready to configure network storage via the intuitive DSS web console. The Igloo only came with its dual embedded 10GBase-T ports and we would like to see some extra ports provided to allow us to isolate management traffic on a separate network.

Storage configuration is easy enough and starts by creating volume groups from the RAID array. Within these we then created logical volumes and decided whether they were for NAS or IP SAN duties. To enable FC SAN services all that’s needed is to fit a suitable HBA in the appliance.

NAS shares are simply to create and you have good access controls which include local user and group lists plus workgroup or Active Directory authentication. You can enable HTTP, NFS and FTP access per share and for the latter, you can also limit the number of connections and enforce encryption.

For IP SANs, we just created a logical volume, attached it to a LUN and set CHAP authentication. As DSS v7 is XFS-based it doesn’t support thin provisioning and to get this as well as deduplication, compression, and clones, you’ll need to specify Open-E’s ZFS-based JovianDSS.

Data protection features

Igloo DSS Software

The DSS software offers an impressive range of network services as standard

On-board virus scanning can be applied to NAS shares as DSS includes the open source ClamAV engine. This can be set to download signatures regularly, run scans of shares at selected intervals and use a dedicated share as a quarantine area.

Snapshots for point-in-time backups can also be taken at scheduled intervals and data is recovered by creating a new share and assigning an existing snapshot to it. Replication is supported as DSS can mirror selected volumes to a remote appliance in real time.

Backup jobs can also be run on the appliance and DSS can secure selected volumes to local NAS shares or an attached tape drive. An unusual feature is DSS allows NAS shares to be designated as WORM (write once, ready many) volumes for additional data security.

Top all-round performance

Boston Igloo 2U-60T-STOR RAID controllers

The appliance’s RAID controllers are managed remotely using the Intel RAID Web Console interface

For performance testing, we used an HPE ProLiant DL380 Gen9 rack server fitted with an Emulex dual-port 10GBase-T card and running Windows Server 2012 R2. With a NAS share mapped to the server we saw Iometer report superb sequential read and write speeds of 9.2Gbits/sec and 9.1Gbits/sec.

We increased the load by calling up another Xeon E5-2600 v3 Windows server and mapping another share to it over a dedicated 10GbE link. With Iometer running on both servers, we watched it return cumulative read and write speeds of 18Gbits/sec and 17Gbits/sec.

Real world NAS speeds are also very good as test copies of a 25GB file returned average read and write rates of 441MB/sec and 393MB/sec. The Igloo will make a great backup target as we secured our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files at an average of 191MB/sec.

We tested the CacheCade feature by disabling it remotely from the Intel RAID web console and watched Iometer report modest random read and write speeds of 2,500 and 2,200 IOPS. With CacheCade enabled and full of hot data, we saw Iometer random read and write rates increase substantially to 37,000 and 10,000 IOPS.

PROS:
  • Unified storage solution
  • Very good value
  • Big capacity
  • Excellent NAS performance
  • CacheCade feature included

CONS:
  • Separate management port required
  • No thin provisioning

Conclusion

With Open-E’s DSS v7 software at the helm, Boston’s Igloo 2U-60T-STOR is a versatile appliance that has all your storage angles covered. Performance is very good and it looks top value too, as the price includes a full house of 6TB hard disks plus the CacheCade feature.

8.5 Total Score
Versatile Appliance

With Open-E’s DSS v7 software at the helm, Boston’s Igloo 2U-60T-STOR is a versatile appliance that has all your storage angles covered. Performance is very good and it looks top value too, as the price includes a full house of 6TB hard disks plus the CacheCade feature.

Performance
9
Features
8
Build Quality
8
Usability
8.5
Value
9
User Rating: 4.67 (3 votes)