Evesham SilverSTOR NAS 3140 review
As demands for general network storage soar, it’s clear that the only disk interface that can satisfy this insatiable appetite in a cost-effective way is Serial ATA (SATA). The SilverSTOR NAS 3140 is a fine example. This compact 3U appliance has room for up to 16 SATA hard disks, giving it the capability to deliver an incredible 6.4TB using 400GB models. SCSI can’t hope to match this ratio of capacity to price. The performance benefits gained from using the latest 15K drives would be extremely difficult to justify considering the substantially higher price tag.
Evesham Technology is so confident of the abilities of SATA that it has standardised on this interface across its entire NAS appliance range. The majority of its products are also built around Chenbro chassis, which, although leaving something to be desired in the build-quality department, do offer plenty of expansion potential. You also get good power fault tolerance, as the price includes a trio of 350W hot-swap supplies. The 3140 centres round an Intel entry-level server motherboard equipped with a 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processor and 1GB of memory. The board provides a pair of Adaptec SATA interfaces and these have been put to good use, as two 80GB SATA drives are configured as a mirrored array to look after the OS. The remaining 14 bays are managed by an Adaptec 21610SA 16-port RAID controller, and the four drives included with the system on review were set up as a triple-disk RAID5 array with hot-standby.
The only drawback of SATA is the individual cables required for each disk bay, which results in a snake’s nest behind the backplane. At least Evesham has kept them reasonably tidy and made sure each one is numbered. Network options are good, as the motherboard provides 10/100 and three Gigabit Ethernet ports, and Evesham also includes a dual-port Intel Gigabit card. Using Intel’s ProSET II utility, selected Gigabit ports can be placed in high-speed or fault-tolerant teams. The 10/100 Ethernet port is used purely for management, as it can be placed on a separate network segment to restrict access.
With Windows Storage Server 2003 (WSS 2003) in the driving seat, the Evesham offers plenty of control over storage. The appliance now ships as standard with the basic FalconStor iSCSI Storage Server software, which allows designated volumes to be presented as iSCSI target devices. Appliance installation is straightforward, as you simply point a web browser at the chosen management port address. We’ve always found the FalconStor administrative interface to be very intuitive. You can swiftly create volumes, set up network shares and designate user- and group-access permissions.
Disk-space usage can be controlled using quotas applied to specific users, while client support extends to Windows, Linux, Unix and Macintosh systems. However, a few useful features are missing from Evesham’s implementation of WSS 2003. Selecting the Shares tab shows that the directory quota and storage-reporting options aren’t provided. The file-screening tool is also conspicuous by its absence, which is a pity as this allows administrators to strictly control what file types are allowed to be copied to the appliance.
The FalconStor iSCSI software is preinstalled as a WSS 2003 plug-in and can only be accessed from the browser interface. Configuration isn’t so simple, but if you want good security and the ability to control which systems can access iSCSI targets then it’s well worth having. The first job is to create storage pools, which are to be used when setting up logical units – iSCSI virtual disks. Storage pools can consist of an area on a single disk or a virtual file spanning multiple disks. You then carve up the pool into logical units.