Mid-sized businesses faced with a combination of rapid data growth, increasing backup demands and shrinking IT budgets could find StorageCraft has the answer. Its OneXafe appliances are designed to offer a converged scale-out storage and data protection platform for physical and virtual environments at a more affordable price than costly enterprise solutions.
The OneXafe family consists of three members starting with the entry-level 4412, moving up to the high capacity 4417 on review here and finishing with the top-performing all-Flash 5410. All three get the benefit of StorageCraft’s patented distributed object-based file system which amalgamates integral encryption, deduplication and compression.
You can place up to seven OneXafe appliances in a ring, or cluster, where the file system automatically distributes data blocks across all members and drives. Fast rebuilds make it a superior alternative to traditional RAID arrays while seamless storage expansion allows you to add one drive, multiple drives or more cluster members as demand dictates.
The OneXafe appliances present their storage as SMB and NFS shares making them highly versatile. Typical applications being targeted by StorageCraft include unstructured data, file server consolidation, data archiving and disk-based backup targets.
Class hardware act
The OneXafe 4417 is a winner in the hardware stakes as this 2U rack-mounter is none other than a Dell EMC PowerEdge R740xd. The review system came supplied with an 8-core 2.1GHz Xeon Scalable Silver 4110 CPU with room for a second and supported by a generous 80GB of DDR4 memory.
Storage is its sweet spot as the chassis has room for 17 internal LFF drives spread across twelve hot-swap bays at the front, three in a mid-plane carrier and two more at the rear. StorageCraft allows you to bring your own drives or have it delivered pre-configured where our system was supplied with a full house of 8TB Dell Enterprise 12Gbps SAS drives.
Network connections are handled by a quad-port 10GbE copper LOM (LAN on motherboard) module and the software supports four port bonding schemes including active/backup, LACP and round-robin. You can keep a close eye on appliance hardware as it includes a Dell iDRAC9 Enterprise license which delivers some of the best remote server monitoring and management services.
Storage only or converged
Opt for a storage-only configuration and you can cloud manage the appliance and cluster using StorageCraft’s OneSystem web portal. We found it simply to register our appliance with the portal using the discovery routine and unique passcodes provided.
The portal presents a well-designed console where we created users and groups, integrated with Active Directory and enabled cluster encryption. SMB and NFS shares are simple to provision and you can use storage policies to define options such as access permissions, deduplication and share-level quotas.
Partnering the appliance with StorageCraft’s Private OneSystem delivers a fully converged data protection and storage management solution. Private OneSystem is hosted as a VMware VM where it teams up seamlessly with StorageCraft’s ShadowXafe backup software.
We found this easy to deploy as StorageCraft provides a handy Windows deployment tool that linked up with our VMware host and created a new ShadowXafe VM for us. We had a slight glitch logging in to the VM as StorageCraft’s licensing server had just been moved to new cloud platform but the excellent support engineers had this sorted in a few hours.
The Private OneSystem console presents a single pane of glass for managing your entire data protection strategy. We found it easy to use where its dashboard presented an overview of system and host protection status, real-time data usage, daily rates of change and backup throughput.
After joining our OneXafe cluster to ShadowXafe, we declared new repositories, defined SMB and NFS shares and also created iSCSI targets. Polices determine backup job frequency along with data retention periods and can be used to control replication to secondary storage locations such as a remote OneXafe repository or the StorageCraft cloud.
Context-based policy management allows you to match backup requirements to your SLAs, RTOs and RPOs. ShadowXafe can also accelerate backup performance by talking to the OneXafe repository via the gRPC (Google RPC) protocol and sending data directly to object-based storage.
Physical system protection requires a small-footprint agent on each one and access security is strict as it requests the host’s unique fingerprint ID along with site registration tokens. For host-based VM backup, ShadowXafe communicates directly with the VMware hypervisor but Hyper-V support has yet to be implemented.
To recover a system, you select a machine or VM from the console, choose a recovery point and start the job. ShadowXafe offers an impressive range of restore features as along with direct VM recovery, physical systems can be restored as a VM and visa-versa.
File recovery is equally straightforward as we chose a system, recovery point and volume. Once we had browsed and selected the files we wanted, OneSystem zipped them up and downloaded to them directly to our management host.
StorageCraft’s VirtualBoot feature is impressive as it offers recovery times measured in milliseconds where it uses vCenter to create a new VM directly from the backup data in the OneXafe repository. For bare-metal recovery, you create bootable media from the recovery ISO agent which connects to OneSystem, provides a list of all recovery points and performs a full system restore.
StorageCraft’s OneXafe and OneSystem solutions are well suited to businesses that can’t afford any downtime and want all their data protection services under one roof. The 4417 appliance is very easy to deploy and effortlessly scalable while the Private OneSystem and ShadowXafe partnership provide a single, unified management platform and an impressive range of converged data protection services.
- Very good value
- Dell EMC hardware
- High capacity
- On-demand storage scale-out
- Centralized data protection
- Efficient support
- Hyper-V support yet to be implemented