Storage specialist QSAN has a well-deserved reputation for delivering affordable NAS and SAN solutions to SMBs and it now turns this expertise to the enterprise market. Its latest XCubeFAS XF3126D makes a big splash as QSAN proudly boasts this is the first and fastest native all-NVMe storage array to hit the sub-$20K price sweet-spot.
The XF3126D offers a lot for your money as this sturdy 3U rackmount array supports 26 U.2 form factor NVMe SSDs in hot-swap carriers. This allows it to provide a higher storage density than many competing solutions with QSAN also claiming it can offer over 50% savings in TCO (total cost of ownership) when compared to the industry-leading products.
Enterprise-class features keep on coming as the XF3126D is supplied with dual hot-plug controllers that run in active/active mode to provide fully transparent failover. Add in the dual 800W redundant PSUs and the wealth of data protection features provided by QSAN’s XEVO operating system (OS) and you have a solution with no single point of failure offering an impressive six 9s redundancy.
Performance is another winner with QSAN quoting some big numbers. The XF3126D claims a maximum 1.2M IOPS and can deliver 220,000 IOPS with a 300μs latency and 450,000 IOPS at 500μs latency.
XEVO OS features
Deployment is swift with QSAN’s standard QFinder app discovering the array and providing direct access to the XEVO HTML5 web interface. This OS was created specifically to manage QSAN’s all-Flash arrays (AFAs) and SMBs will approve of the fact that it’s designed to be affordable, user-friendly and easy to deploy.
The web console opens with an informative status screen showing installed NVMe SSDs, storage usage and an overview of arrays, pools, volumes and hosts. The window to the right provides a set of graphs for real-time views of overall latency, IOPS and throughput.
Storage features impress as the extensive RAID options include all standard types along with enhanced EE arrays which offer faster rebuild times by adding more spare drives to a pool. QSAN supplied our review unit with a full complement of 960GB Micron 7300 U.2 NVMe SSDs and we used the console’s wizard to quickly create dual 10 SSD RAID6 arrays with a virtual volume in each one.
Data protection services
QSAN’s protection groups make light work of snapshot management as you can add multiple volumes to one group and protect them all with a single schedule. These run snapshots on specific days as often as every 15 minutes and you have facilities to run them on-demand as well.
Value looks even better as the price includes facilities for local replication of a volume to another local storage pool or remotely to an external array. Network bandwidth controls for remote replication are extensive as you have a choice of eight traffic shaping groups which are used to enforce bandwidth restrictions during peak and off-peak periods.
The QSLife service is another great feature as this keeps you in the loop on SSD usage and remaining life. Accessed by selecting the heart icon at the top of the web console, this provides precise data on the remaining life of each SSD, presents usage graphs for each one and has three alert levels so you’re never caught out when an SSD reaches the end of its working life.
XF3126D Hardware and data port options
QSAN’s controllers are the first we’ve seen to provide Xeon Scalable power with each one sporting a fast 1.9GHz 6-core Xeon Scalable Bronze 3204 CPU. On-board cache memory starts at a generous 16GB of DDR4 ECC and this can be field-upgraded to a hefty 384GB as each controller has six DIMM slots.
Cooling is handled separately for each controller with a bank of four fans at the rear of the sleds but these aren’t the hot-swap variety so the controller will need to be removed to replace failed ones. A small removable unit in the front panel provides global cache protection and comes with a cache-to-flash module and integral battery backup unit.
Management redundancy is provided as each controller has a Gigabit port and you also get a pair of embedded 10GbE SFP+ iSCSI data ports as well. Data port expansion is impressive as each controller has two bays and QSAN offers modules with dual and quad 10GbE iSCSI or 8/16Gbps Fibre Channel (FC), dual 32Gbps FC or dual 25GbE iSCSI.
A noteworthy feature is the controllers function in synchronous mode and not the more-common ALUA (asymmetric logical unit access). The bottom line is you can connect your hosts across both controllers for redundancy but, unlike ALUA, all MPIO links are optimized with none sitting idle in standby.
XF3126D Failover and performance tests
For our tests, QSAN supplied the review system with one quad-port 16Gbps FC expansion module in each controller and we used two Xeon Scalable Windows servers fitted with ATTO Celerity quad-port 16Gbps FC HBAs. Mapping them to dedicated volumes was a simple process as all FC connections were automatically discovered allowing us to swiftly create redundant quad FC MPIO links to each server.
We can confirm failover is totally transparent as we removed the upper controller while our Iometer tests were running on each server. The array promoted the lower controller to master status, web console access was swapped over to its management port and although Iometer dropped to half speed, it continued to run without any interruption.
With both controllers back in action, Iometer ramped up to full speed and we watched the array deliver excellent overall performance. Cumulative sequential read and write rates for both servers were measured at 98Gbits/sec and 94.9Gbits/sec.
Random speeds were very good with Iometer reporting read and write rates of 98Gbits/sec and 31.3Gbits/sec. Swapping Iometer to 4KB block sizes delivered great random read and write I/O throughputs of 357,000 and 105,500 IOPS with latency hovering between 0.84ms and 4.6ms.
As the first native NVMe AFA with a price tag below $20K, the XCubeFAS XF3126D is a game changer. Along with a high storage density and powerful dual controllers, it offers an impressive range of storage and data protection features while the end-to-end redundancy and six 9s reliability make it a great choice for SMBs and enterprises that want to host high-performance, mission-critical storage.