Fujitsu Storage Eternus DX100 S3 Review

DX100 S3 front

Competition in the SMB and mid-sized SAN markets is getting intense and Fujitsu stakes its claim with the new Eternus DX100 S3. Stepping in as the successor to its DX80, this 2U rack array has a sharp focus on value, performance and expandability.

Choice is another key feature as the DX100 S3 chassis is available with 12 LFF or 24 SFF drive bays plus single or dual RAID controllers and supports an impressive selection of host interfaces. For the latter, Fujitsu offers Gigabit and 10GbE iSCSI or Ethernet, 16Gbps FC, 6Gbps SAS and even 10GbE FCoE (fibre channel over Ethernet).

The controller’s internal drive interfaces have been boosted to 12Gbps SAS support and drive options are equally good as Fujitsu offers SSDs, near-line SAS and SAS models in a range of capacities. Controller processing power has been improved while their base cache memory has been doubled over the DX80 to 4GB.

The DX100 S3 has a high expansion potential as up to 10 drive shelves can be hooked together using the controller’s SAS ports. LFF and SFF shelves can be mixed together with the only limitation being a 144 maximum drive count.

Unified storage?

For redundancy the dual controllers function in active/active mode, all drives bays are hot-swappable and the array sports dual hot-plug power supplies. Additional expansion shelves are daisy-chained using the external SAS ports on both controller for fault-tolerant links.

The DX100 S3 is also a unified storage solution as it can support NAS operations. However, there are some provisos which need to be considered first.

The array supports CIFS and NFS but NAS support must be ordered at the point of sales as you can’t upgrade existing SAN only models. The combined SAN/NAS firmware requires controllers with a minimum of 8GB and they use a different type of channel adapter for the data ports as well.

Who wrote these manuals?

FUJITSU Eternus DX100 S3 web interface

The appliance’s web interface provides plenty of information about RAID groups and volumes

Our review system was supplied with 18 600GB SAS drives and both RAID controllers each with dual 10GbE iSCSI ports. Initial installation gets off to a good start with the web interface firing up a quick start wizard requesting details such as a hostname, a new administrator password, SNMP community names and license registration.

However, it gets tougher from here on in and further configuration isn’t helped by Fujitsu copious and confusing manuals where much appears to be lost in translation. To configure storage we created RAID groups which define a collection of drives, a total capacity and the primary controller that will look after them.

Within each RAID group you can create multiple data volumes and choose from stripes, mirrors, RAID10, 5, 6 or 50. RAID groups can be migrated from one array type to another and volumes expanded into spare space.

Thinly provisioned volumes use dedicated storage pools. As volume space gets used, the appliance dynamically assigns new blocks from the pool and when capacity reaches preset watermarks it issues alerts.

Affinity Groups

Fujitsu’s Eternus DX100 S3 affinity groups

Fujitsu’s affinity groups define the relationship between volumes, controller ports and host servers.

Before mapping volumes to hosts it’s worth sorting out host, port and LUN (logical unit number) groups first. Multiple volumes can be assigned to LUN groups where they each get their own LUN number.

Host servers can be gathered into groups but during creation, the auto-discover feature wouldn’t spot our logged in iSCSI initiators so we had to enter their entire IQN manually – a tedious job at best. You also need to place the controller’s data ports in groups as well.

Once we had our LUN, host and port groups sorted we used Fujitsu’s affinity groups to bring them all together. These provide strict access controls as they only allow hosts to access volumes over the member ports.

Snapshots and Data Tiering

FUJITSU Eternus DX100 S3 SF Express

Multiple appliances are managed from the central SF Express web interface which also handles replication

The DX100 S3 has a staggering range of snapshot and data backup options but the documentation makes a real hash of explaining most of them. Fujitsu’s SnapOPC+ (one point copy plus) feature uses dedicated SDVs (snap data volumes) to take point-in-time copies of selected source volumes.

These are ideal as temporary staging areas for offloading backups. SDVs can be mapped to another host and once the SnapOPC+ task has finished, the SDV appears to the host as an identical copy and can be used for backup operations.

Other options include QuickOPC which takes an initial volume copy and updates it incrementally while Equivalent Copy manages mirrors of one volume to another on the same array. Remote Equivalent Copy (REC) mirrors volumes from one array to another but can only be run via Fujitsu’s SF Express software which presents a separate web interface for managing multiple arrays.

The DX100 S3 offers optional data tiering which monitors block usage and migrates hot data up to SSD tiers for faster access. Unlike products such as Dell’s more costly Compellent storage appliances, this is a not a dynamic process.

Data tiering is controlled via SF Manager which monitors block usage on the disk array. At quiet periods such as overnight, it analyses this information and reorganises the data blocks accordingly ready for the next day’s work.

Performance

Eternus DX100 S3 performance

Overall performance is good and you can keep an eye on disk usage from the main web console

For performance testing, we used one of the lab’s dual E5-2600 v3 Xeon servers loaded with Windows Server 2012 R2 and equipped with a dual port Emulex OCE11102-NM 10GbE adapter. We created a selection of RAID5 data volumes and used affinity groups to map them to the server.

With Iometer configured for 256KB transfer requests, we saw impressive raw sequential read and write speeds for a 1TB target of 8.1Gbps and 5.1Gbps respectively. Dropping to an 8KB transfer request size saw equally good throughput with Iometer reporting a very high 71,000 IOPS.

PROS:
  • Good performance
  • Big expansion
  • Data backup and replication features
  • Extensive snapshot options
  • Big choice of host interfaces

CONS:
  • Confusing user manuals
  • Advanced features complex to configure

Conclusion

The Eternus DX100 S3 looks good value as a base system comprising one controller, dual 1GB iSCSI ports, three 3TB NL-SAS drives and a 3-year on-site warranty costs around $6,644. Fujitsu’s manuals really need a rewrite to make deployment easier but this well-built array is big on performance and data protection features.

8 Total Score
Well Built Array

The Eternus DX100 S3 looks good value as a base system comprising one controller, dual 1GB iSCSI ports, three 3TB NL-SAS drives and a 3-year on-site warranty costs around $6,644. Fujitsu’s manuals really need a rewrite to make deployment easier but this well-built array is big on performance and data protection features.

Performance
8.5
Features
8.5
Build Quality
9
Usability
6
Value
8
User Rating: 4.35 (1 votes)