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Infortrend EonStor DS4024RUCB Review

DS4024-front

Infortrend has a reputation for delivering affordable storage arrays to SMBs and its latest EonStor DS4000 Gen2 family takes this to the next level. There’s much more as along with a tempting starting price, these high capacity hybrid arrays have versatility as their middle name.

The 2U rack chassis supports dual controllers where each comes as standard with pairs of Gigabit IP SAN data ports and 12Gbps SAS3 expansion ports. Each controller accepts two dual-port host boards and Infortrend offers options with 10GbE iSCSI, 8/16Gbps FC, 10GbE FCoE and SAS3 which can be mixed and matched to suit.

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On review we have the EonStor DS4024RUCB 24-bay model which was supplied to us with dual controllers and four host boards each with two 16Gbps FC ports. Infortrend makes some big performance claims and to allow us to test these, it kitted the array out with 24 200GB Toshiba SAS3 eMLC SSDs.

Hardware, expansion and redundancy

The controller’s look ready for some serious storage action as they’re equipped with 2.2GHz Xeon D-1500 SoCs (system on chip) which support fast DDR4 cache memory. The standard 8GB of cache can be increased massively to 256GB and it’s protected by a combination of fast-charging capacitor and flash memory.

Redundancy looks good as the controllers are hot-swappable and the chassis has dual 530W hot-plug PSUs with integral cooling fans. Expansion potential is quite remarkable as the array supports Infortrend’s 16, 24 and 60-bay disk shelves allowing the drive count to be pushed to 444. As each controller has dual SAS3 expansion ports, the disk shelves can be daisy-chained over redundant links.

The price includes snapshots, volume copies and volume mirrors plus you can add Infortrend’s optional data tiering. It incurs a one-off fee with a 2-tier license costing $2,520 and a 4-tier license pushing the price to $4,400.

Other options include remote replication and SSD caching. The latter costs $2,400 and allows you to use up to four SSDs per controller for accelerating random reads.

Swift deployment

SANWatch makes light work of creating RAID–protected logical volumes and storage partitions

SANWatch makes light work of creating RAID–protected logical volumes and storage partitions

The controllers have dedicated network management ports but only the one on controller A is active. If it fails, its management IP address is shifted over to controller B for uninterrupted access.

The embedded RAIDWatch browser interface is used for single array management while the SANWatch utility remotely manages multiple devices. The interfaces are very similar but snapshots, volume copies, data tiering and replication can only be run from SANWatch.

Storage is easy to configure and we swiftly created two RAID6 logical drives each using 12 SSDs and assigned one to Controller A and the other to B. We then created partitions within these and mapped them to the desired FC ports.

Controller conundrums

Although all host ports on both controllers are active, their operational mode complicates setting up multi-path I/O (MPIO) links. The user manual fails to explain this clearly but if you map them across both controllers, the secondary link functions in standby only and its bandwidth is not aggregated with the primary link.

When creating multiple virtual volumes you designate either Controller A or B as their primary link. To create aggregated MPIO links, you need to map the volumes to multiple ports on the same controller.

The manual also needs to be updated as it still recommends using Infortrend’s EonPath software for managing MPIO links on Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts. Avoid this and use Microsoft’s DSM instead as this provides additional options for setting MPIO policies such as weighted path and round robin.

Top performer

Infortrend DS4024RUCB supports up to four storage tiers

Infortrend supports up to four storage tiers where member drives have different performance and capacities

For performance testing, we used four Xeon E5-2600 v3 rack servers all equipped with Windows Server 2012 R2 and Emulex LightPulse dual-port 16Gbps FC adapters. We configured four partitions on the EonStor and mapped each one to two ports on the same controller allowing us to use high-speed 32Gbps MPIO links.

Running Iometer on one server returned sequential raw read speeds of 2,560MB/sec and a cumulative total for all four of 10,240MB/sec – not too far off the claimed 11,000MB/sec. Infortrend states 5,500MB/sec for write speeds but we saw much higher speeds with Iometer reporting a cumulative 7,700MB/sec across all four servers.

To test maximum I/O performance we configured Iometer with small 4KB transfer requests. From the SANWatch performance page, we could see our four servers generating an amazing total of 1 million IOPS for read operations and 526,000 IOPS for writes.

Snapshots and data tiering

Infortrend SANWatch

SANWatch recorded over 1 million IOPS for 4KB read requests from our four test servers

The base price includes a license for 64 snapshots per volume and 128 per system and these can be run on-demand or scheduled as often as every 5 minutes. Rollback is a simple process as although our test partition had to be unmapped first, we restored all deleted data from the latest snapshot in under 30 seconds.

To use data tiering, you create separate logical drives for each tier and assign them a priority from 0 to 3. High performance SSDs would be at the top, SAS drives below them, NL-SAS next and low-cost SATA at the bottom.

The only drawback of this solution is data movement doesn’t occur in real time. You must run scheduled jobs each day which analyse block usage and move them to the most appropriate tier.

The SSD Cache Pool supports up to four SSDs which must be installed in the head unit. It’s easy enough to create where it will accelerate random read operations making it a worthy addition if the array is hosting databases.

Conclusion

The Infortrend EonStor DS4024RUCB delivers an incredible all-Flash performance at a price the blue chips can’t hope to compete with. The new hybrid controllers and their extensive port choices make it very flexible and it teams this up with good hardware redundancy and a mind-boggling expansion potential.

9.1 Total Score
Big Expansion Potential at an Affordable Price

The Infortrend EonStor DS4024RUCB delivers an incredible all-Flash performance at a price the blue chips can’t hope to compete with. The new hybrid controllers and their extensive port choices make it very flexible and it teams this up with good hardware redundancy and a mind-boggling expansion potential.

Performance
10
Features
9
Build Quality
9.5
Usability
8
Value
9
PROS
  • Stunning Fibre Channel performance
  • Versatile hybrid controllers
  • Unbeatable expansion potential
  • Very good value
CONS
  • Non-dynamic data tiering
  • Confusing manuals
User Rating: 4.67 (3 votes)