Promise VessRAID 1840f review
A high-capacity unified network storage solution that’s fast for IP and FC SAN operations, and very good value
Best known for its RAID controllers, Promise Technology has been busy lately in the network storage department, and its new VessRAID family offers SMBs a range of high-capacity appliances, with features and value at the top of their agenda. In this exclusive review, we look at the flagship VessRAID 1840f, which delivers a unified storage solution with NAS, IP SAN and FC SAN services straight from the box.
This sturdy 3U chassis handles up to 16 SAS and SATA hot-swap drives that can be mixed in the same RAID array if required. The controller provides all key array types including RAID6 plus hot spare, has two Gigabit iSCSI data ports, and a pair of FC ports that support the latest 8Gbits/sec speeds.
Expansion potential is very good: the controller’s SAS port can be used to daisy-chain multiple VessJBOD arrays for a total of 112 hard disks. However, since there’s only a single SAS port on each unit, you can’t create redundant links as you can with appliances such as the A-Listed IBM DS3512.
For testing, we fitted triplets of 1TB SATA and 147GB SAS drives and created a couple of RAID5 arrays manually. During this process, you need to decide on how they’re presented as an array can be used for NAS/IP SAN or FC SAN storage, but not both.
We tested FC services by linking a dual X5560 Broadberry rack server to the first FC port via a Brocade 815 8Gbits/sec HBA. Alas, Promise provided the appliance with only 4Gbits/sec SFP modules, but performance was still impressive. Mapped to the SAS RAID array, the Iometer utility reported a fast raw read speed of 387MB/sec.
IP SAN performance is just as good and we had no problems using the Microsoft iSCSI initiator to log on to the appliance’s portals. With a 50GB target assigned to the test server, we saw Iometer return top raw read speeds of 108MB/sec.
For NAS operations the appliance supports CIFS/SMB, NFS and FTP, and each protocol can be enabled as required. Local groups and users along with AD integration can be used to secure share access, but you can’t apply quotas to control usage. Promise’s separate SmartNAVI utility is also provided for managing NAS operations and can be used to configure shares, users and groups.
General NAS performance is reasonably good, with copies of a 2.52GB video clip returning read and write speeds of 83MB/sec and 45MB/sec over Gigabit. The SmartSync option also provides basic workstation backup.
If you want total component redundancy for your IP and FC SANs and can afford it then check out IBM’s DS3512, but Promise’s VessRAID 1840f offers a simple, unified network storage solution. The appliance looks top value for SMBs.