Boston iGloo 24T-StorMagic review

£11499
Price when reviewed

Boston’s iGloo 24T-StorMagic takes IP SANs to the next level, offering 24TB of raw physical storage and combining it with extreme ease of use.

It’s an all-Supermicro system, with a solidly-built 4U chassis providing 24 hot-swap drive bays each filled with 1TB Western Digital SATA hard disks. The price includes Supermicro dual-port 10GbE and remote-management cards while the storage software comes courtesy of StorMagic’s SM Series preloaded on a USB DOM.

You can manage the appliance via its web browser interface but you’d miss out on StorMagic’s Disk Manager utility, which offers six-click manoeuvres for iSCSI target creation and deployment. All the hard disks in the appliance are placed into RAID arrays that present storage pools to the network. The pools are then used to create iSCSI virtual disks that can be shared among multiple hosts or dedicated to selected systems.

The Disk Manager kicks off with a wizard-based routine that hunts down the appliance on the network and offers to set up an array. RAID configuration doesn’t need to be done at the controller BIOS level, since StorMagic handles all of this automatically or you can create multiple pools manually if you wish.

For IP SAN creation, StorMagic has focused on SMBs with limited technical resources. The Disk Manager interface opens with a view of local and IP SAN storage resources showing used and free capacities. Usefully, it will show all StorMagic appliances plus local and remote host systems that have the Disk Manager service running. You’ll be able to view the entire IP SAN and all hosts from a single interface, and see the status of all local and virtual hard disks.

To create an iSCSI virtual volume you choose a storage pool, decide on a size for your target, and the drive letter it should be assigned. The Disk Manager creates the target, adds the appliance’s portals to the initiator, logs on to the target and assigns the local drive letter to it. You don’t even have to initialise and format the drive. Targets can also be created manually from the Disk Manager or the web interface, where you log into them from the host initiators manually.

StorMagic’s migration feature lets you move data on selected local drives to much larger virtual volumes, and on completion they retain the same drive letter. You don’t lose the original volume, since StorMagic keeps it intact and only removes its drive letter. Another useful feature is StorMagic’s automatic disk extension, which can be enabled on selected targets during creation. On each volume you decide when the disk should be extended based on available space and what percentage it should grow by.

For testing, we used a dual-core 3GHz Xeon server and a Dell PowerEdge 1950 quad-core 1.86GHz Xeon server, both running Windows Server 2003. We placed each server on a different IP subnet and created and assigned virtual volumes to each one.

With the Iometer utility configured on one host, we saw it return a fine 112MB/sec raw read rate. With two hosts in the mix and assigned to independent iSCSI targets, Iometer returned a read speed of 208MB/sec.

it_photo_31991The iGloo offers many other valuable IP SAN-related features. Disk Manager allows the appliance to be fully managed via a browser offering access to more features. StorMagic supports persistent connections, iSNS servers, CHAP authentication and ACLs. Multipath I/O (MPIO) is also on the menu: this uses multiple paths from hosts to storage volumes to create redundant links.

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