Qsan Technology P300Q-D212 review
A reasonably priced IP SAN array with top performance, redundancy and expansion potential
Qsan Technology specialises in IP SAN storage arrays for SMBs, and the P300Q-D212 places data redundancy as a major priority. It offers dual controllers supporting active/active mode and cache mirroring, extensive RAID array choices and plenty of expansion potential.
For a starting price of £4,750, you get a diskless array with two controllers, two 500W hotplug power units and room for 12 LFF SAS or SATA II drives. The controllers have SAS expansion ports, allowing the drive count to go up to 60 using Qsan’s JBOD arrays, but these and the head unit support only 3Gbits/sec disk speeds.
Each controller has four Gigabit data ports and active/active mode allows all of them to be used for IP SAN operations. Management ports on each means redundancy is extended to these functions too.
The simple web interface makes light work of installation, and a wizard offers RAID array suggestions based on installed drives. For testing, we loaded up a quartet of Seagate 15K SAS drives and opted for a simple RAID5 array.
Arrays are called RAID Groups (RGs), and within these you create multiple virtual disks (VDs) that are your iSCSI targets. VDs can be of any size, and if you run out of room you can load more drives, add them to the RG and extend selected VDs as required.
The appliance advertises one iSCSI node name, with all accessible VDs appearing under this as LUNs. Although CHAP authentication can only be applied at node level, access can be limited by assigning VDs to specific iSCSI host initiators, or by using a wild-card entry for global access.
To test the appliance’s performance we used four Windows Server 2008 R2 systems. Each was logged on to a dedicated portal and assigned its own VD from our RAID5 array. Iometer reported raw read and write speeds for one server of 112MB/sec and 110MB/sec, rising to 220MB/sec and 216MB/sec when we added a second one. With Iometer running on all four servers, we saw impressive cumulative read and write speeds of 435MB/sec and 312MB/sec.
Along with extensive RAID array support and migration options, the appliance offers Qsan’s N-way mirroring. Instead of using two drives, the array can contain multiple mirrors for N-1 failover.
Snapshots are a standard feature, and can be run on selected VDs manually or at regular hourly, daily, weekly and monthly intervals. You can roll back a VD using any available snapshot, expose it as a new read-only or read-write target, and assign a host initiator so it appears as a new drive.
The cloning feature will prove handy for testing, as you create a backup VD that’s the same size as the source VD. When it’s ready, select the Set Clone option of the source VD, choose the backup VD as the target, and either run it manually or use the same scheduling options as provided for snapshots.
Apart from the lack of support for 6Gbits/sec SAS and SATA drives, there’s little reason to criticise the P300Q-D212. This IP SAN disk array is a good choice for SMBs running critical apps, since it offers plenty of hardware redundancy, and good speed and value.