Top Ten

HPE StoreVirtual 3200 Storage Review

SMBs that thought software defined storage (SDS) was beyond their means can think again as HPE’s latest StoreVirtual 3200 Storage appliances have been designed with them in mind. With prices starting as low as $6,000, this new family of storage appliances offer a very affordable SDS solution with a sharp focus on scalability and reliability.

These 2U rack appliances are well endowed in the hardware department as they come with dual controllers operating in active/active mode to provide full redundancy. Along with a 64-bit, 6-core ARM CPU, each controller comes equipped with 8GB of NVDIMM cache memory protected by battery backup packs.

The controllers provide 12Gbits/sec SAS3 support and can scale up to three SFF or LFF drive enclosures for up to 100 SFF or 48 LFF drives. Total capacity is an impressive 288TB and HPE offers a choice of 15K, 10K SAS3 and 7.2K midline hard disks along with a range of mixed use and write-intensive SSDs.

Two Gigabit iSCSI data ports are provided as standard on each controller and their dual expansion slots allow you to add a good range of host data ports. Our system (Model – N9X20A) comes with one expansion card per controller each with dual 10GbE SFP+ ports leaving a spare slot on each one.

Other host port options include expansion cards with 4 and 8 Gigabit or dual 10GBase-T ports. Fibre channel is also supported with dual 8/16Gbps FC port cards available.

Scalability and features

HPE’s storage wizard does all the hard work for you and then checks system health status

The StoreVirtual appliances use the concepts of storage scale-up and scale-out where the latter refers to the ability to add extra expansion shelves to the head unit. Scale-out allows you to link it up with a second SV3200 appliance increasing support to six disk shelves but this is permitted on iSCSI models only.

The controllers are powered by HPE’s StoreVirtual Operating System (SVOS) which manages storage clustering services and fault tolerance. HPE’s optional Storage Startup Service is also available to help streamline and simplify deployment.

The StoreVirtual Active Optimisation feature uses SSDs to provide auto-tiering across two levels. This is dynamic as it automatically moves hot data to SSD tiers in real-time but requires the optional Advanced Data Services Suite license which costs around $2,500.

It’s worth the extra cost as the suite also enables features such as asynchronous remote copy which replicates thinly provisioned snapshots across local and remote systems. And then there’s the synchronous stretch feature which mirrors volumes across a multi-site SAN.

Easy deployment

The OneView-style console confirmed our software defined storage was in a highly available state

The StoreVirtual 3200 scores well for ease of deployment as it presents a smart web management interface. It’s designed in the same style as HPE’s OneView central management solution although we were advised by HPE that this will not support SV3200 appliances until the next release.

The SVOS wizard handles all initial tasks and ensures you secure administrative access and then helps configure your data network, create a management group container, name your storage pool and dish out virtual IP addresses. During this phase you can enable a passive support option which allows authorised HPE engineers to monitor system health, receive alerts and provide remote support.

Physical drives are placed in hardware RAID arrays for fault tolerance and this is all handled by the wizard which determined the best setting for our mix of SSDs and 15K SAS drives. We didn’t need to do anything as the wizard detected them, created four RAID arrays within a single storage pool and bonded the controller’s 10GbE ports to create a fault tolerant network link.

RAID across the network

Once the wizard had finished, we could then create virtual volumes and dish them up to our servers. Called network RAID, the virtual volume is striped across the whole storage pool and the two storage nodes on the SV3200 allowed us to create Network RAID0 and RAID10 arrays.

You select your preferred RAID array type during volume creation with RAID0 primarily used for testing or applications that require high performance. For greater redundancy, choose RAID10 as this adds mirroring so your virtual volumes will always be available should a controller, network connection, RAID array or disk fail.

During volume creation we could opt for thin provisioning and create multiple volumes all with the same settings. If you have Active Optimisation enabled, you can also choose which volumes you want included in data tiering.

Provision and protect

Volume snapshots can be easily created and run manually or scheduled

To provision storage to our Windows servers, we first had to log their iSCSI initiators into the appliance’s portal using its global virtual IP address. They then appeared in the web console where we could export selected virtual volumes to them along with read only and read/write access permissions.

Snapshots are included as standard and the SV3200 supports up to 2,048. These can be run on-demand and scheduled to run at regular intervals as often as every 15 minutes.

Application aware snapshots are more complex to configure as we had to install HPE’s AASM app on each Windows server and then create a management group that authenticated to a user defined on the appliance. Even so, it only took a few minutes and on completion, the AASM app took one-time and scheduled snapshots after it had quiesced our VSS-aware apps.

We also tested general snapshot recovery by deleting 35GB of data from a 500GB target. All associated initiators must be logged off prior to recovery and after selecting this option, we had our deleted data back in place in only a few seconds.

Conclusion

SMBs that want a software defined storage solution with five 9’s availability will find HPE’s StoreVirtual 3200 Storage a very affordable option. We found it surprisingly easy to deploy, capable of providing end-to-end storage availability and easily scalable to keep in step with demand.

8.9 Total Score

SMBs that want a software defined storage solution with five 9’s availability will find HPE’s StoreVirtual 3200 Storage a very affordable option. We found it surprisingly easy to deploy, capable of providing end-to-end storage availability and easily scalable to keep in step with demand.

Performance
8
Features
9
Build Quality
9.5
Build Quality
9.5
Usability
9
Value
8.5
PROS
  • Excellent value for SMBs
  • Affordable SDS solution
  • High availability
  • Simple installation
  • Very scalable
CONS
  • Lacking HPE OneView support
User Rating: Be the first one!

Post your comment below

Leave a reply