HP MSA 2040 Storage review
Fibre channel disk arrays are normally well beyond the means of SMBs, but HP’s latest model brings them within reach. The MSA 2040 is the first entry-level storage solution to support 8/16Gbps speeds – at under £7,000 for the dual controller model on review, it’s as affordable as fibre disk arrays come.
The 2U chassis is available with 12 LFF or 24 hot-swap SFF disk bays, and twin hot-swap PSUs are included as standard. You have a wide choice of storage options ranging from 6Gbps SAS2 and SSDs to midline SAS, and expansion potential is excellent, too.
The 6Gbps SAS interface permits the daisy-chaining of up to seven expansion units and with dual controllers installed, you can use multiple fault-tolerant paths. The optional MSA 2040 disk shelves provide a further 12 LFF drive bays whilst HP’s D2700 offers 25 SFF bays – both have dual 6Gbps SAS interconnects. The system supports a total of 96 LFF or 199 SFF drives and virtual disks can span across enclosures.
The twin controllers each have four 4/8/16Gbps FC ports, but you can cut costs by starting with a single controller and adding a second later on. HP has also just released a new controller model with quad 12Gbps SAS ports whilst another model with quad 10GbE is slated for release later this year.
Each controller has 4GB of cache memory and uses a super-capacitor and CompactFlash card to prevent data loss. In the event of a blackout, cache contents are written to the CompactFlash card using available power in the capacitor which can recharge more quickly than a standard battery.
Configuring the controllers can be done directly via their mini-USB port and the supplied serial cable, but it is possible to sidestep this phase by pointing a web browser as the controller’s IP address.
HP’s web interface makes it possible to configure every aspect of the MSA 2040, and also provides a handy graphical view of all physical hardware including the chassis, installed hard disks, controllers and FC ports. Select any one of the installed components and the interface allows you to drill down and access more detailed information; it also details all the attached disk shelves along with their cable links and allows you to swap between them and the main unit.
Storage is provisioned by creating virtual disks, picking physical drives, choosing a RAID array and adding hot-spares if required. If an array becomes full you can expand it into spare drives but you can’t migrate to a different type of array.