Qsan AegisSAN LX P600Q-D316 review

£10920
Price when reviewed

SMBs looking for highly redundant IP SAN disk arrays can expect to pay through the nose if they go to the blue chips, but Qsan is offering a more cost-effective alternative. Its AegisSAN LX P600Q-D316 ticks all the right boxes: it offers dual controllers supporting active/active mode and cache mirroring; provides extensive RAID array choices; and seals the deal with plenty of expansion potential.

It comes with dual-hotplug 500W power supplies and fan modules, and is 10GbE-ready. Both controllers sport dual Gigabit and 10GbE small-form-factor pluggable (SFP+) data ports, and are equipped with dedicated hotplug battery backup modules.

Expansion potential is impressive. Each controller provides a SAS 2 port, and with Qsan’s J300Q JBOD disk shelves hooked up, you can go up to a maximum of 192 drives. These units also have a dual-controller design, so redundancy is extended throughout the daisy chain.

Qsan AegisSAN LX P600Q-D316

Since each controller has a dedicated management port, redundancy is extended to these functions. You have two choices for access: a web browser or Qsan’s own QCentral utility, which is designed to manage multiple appliances. The web interface is fairly basic, but provides easy access to functions. QCentral is just as easy to use, and you can access various functions simply by clicking on components in the appliance graphic.

For testing, we loaded up a quartet of Western Digital 4TB SAS 2 hard disks. The drive trays accept SFF drives, so we added a couple of 900GB WD Enterprise drives, too. The appliance doesn’t support SATA drives, though.

You start by creating RAID groups, and Qsan supports an extensive range of array types including Qsan’s N-way mirroring, where the array can contain multiple mirrors for N-1 failover. During RAID-group creation, the QThin feature allows thin provisioning to be enabled on a per-group basis.

Within each RAID group, you create multiple virtual disks (VDs), which are your iSCSI targets. These can be of any size, and if you run out of room you can load more drives, add them to the RAID group and extend VDs as required.

The appliance advertises one iSCSI node name, with all accessible VDs appearing under this as LUNs. For access control, CHAP authentication is applied at the node level. However, you can further restrict access by assigning VDs to specific iSCSI host initiators or using a wild-card entry for global access.

Snapshots can be run on selected VDs manually or at 15-minute, hourly, daily, weekly and monthly intervals. From both the web console and QCentral, you can select a VD and view all associated snapshots. Snapshots can be exposed as a new read-only or read-write target and initiators assigned so they appear as a new drive.

Qsan AegisSAN LX P600Q-D316

The cloning feature will be handy for testing and basic VD backup: it allows you to create complete replicas of source VDs. It can also keep them updated by running scheduled incremental backups. VD replication over a LAN or WAN to another appliance is possible with the optional QReplica feature. The only drawback is that the second Gigabit port on each controller on both appliances must be dedicated to this task.

For testing we created a range of VDs within a RAID5 array and introduced the appliance to the lab’s 10GbE network. We used a Broadberry CyberServe with dual 2.6GHz E5-2670 Xeons, 48GB of DDR3 RAM, Windows Server 2012 and an Emulex OCe11102-NM dual-port 10GbE adapter.

With jumbo frames enabled, Iometer reported fast raw read and write speeds of 1,157MB/sec and 1,084MB/sec, which equates to an impressive 9Gbits/sec and 8.5Gbits/sec. To test maximum IOPS, we changed the Iometer block size to 4KB and saw a reading of 130,000 IOPS.

For general database performance testing, we used 256 outstanding I/Os, a 16KB block size, 66% read, 34% write and a 100% random distribution. After an hour, Iometer settled at a respectable 9,700 IOPS.

The P600Q-D316 is ideal for hosting business-critical storage. The lack of SATA drive support is a disappointment, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find this calibre of features for less.

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