Sun Storage 7110 Unified Storage System review

£8050
Price when reviewed

Sun’s new Unified Storage System (USS) portfolio aims to hit the competition hard, as these appliances come with everything included, so no optional extras. Here, we examine the entry-level 7110 – and it’s something special. Sun claims the 7000 family is the world’s first open storage solution, as all the appliances run OpenSolaris. This brings a heap of standard features to the table with support for CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP, NDMP and iSCSI – so you have full NAS and IP SAN functions.

There’s much more as Sun includes unlimited snapshots, integral data compression, iSCSI thin provisioning, virus scanning and even remote replication. Furthermore, along with support for RAID5 and 6 arrays you have Sun’s ZFS Hybrid storage pools, which combine fast flash memory devices and DRAM memory, plus high-capacity hard disks into a single storage entity.

Sun claims a five-minute installation, and we agree. Further configuration won’t be so swift, but that’s mainly due to the number of features. You start with a local or network connection to the appliance’s CLI, where you simply need to configure the primary network interface and secure administrative access. Next, head to the well-designed web interface and a wizard where you configure each of the data ports.

The concepts used here are unusual since each of the four Gigabit ports are classed as devices, which are used to create datalinks. These can comprise a single device but may also represent an LACP team or a VLAN membership and, once created, are assigned to interfaces that provide IP configuration and addressing. Interfaces can also represent IPMP (IP multipath) groups, allowing IP addresses on failed datalinks to be migrated to others maintained in a pool. Next up is storage pool configuration where you view all your RAID options, see what impact each will have on availability, capacity and performance, and then make your choice.

You present your storage to the network as file system shares and decide how they’re to be made available. Each file system and iSCSI LUN must be a member of a project, which is used to group shares together and apply common settings. These include quotas, reserved disk pool space, access controls, one of four data-compression algorithms, and LUN volume sizes. You then decide which protocols the project will make available for its shares and you can enable NFS, CIFS, HTTP, FTP and iSCSI.

For CIFS access you can either use workgroup mode or AD and, along with NFS, HTTP and FTP, decide whether read or read/write access is allowed. When creating a LUN for a project the appliance automatically assigns an IQN to it, and from the main iSCSI service menu you can activate CHAP authentication and define an iSNS server.

The 7110 proved quick, with Iometer reporting a speedy 112MB/sec raw read throughput for one iSCSI target. Running Iometer on two servers, each logged in to different data ports and dedicated targets, saw a cumulative speed of 134MB/sec showing contention for resources.

Real-world speeds for iSCSI were good, as copying a 2.52GB video returned read and write speeds of 89MB/sec and 76MB/sec. FTP was even faster with the FileZilla client reporting read and write speeds of 99MB/sec and 86MB/sec using the same test file.

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Snapshots are read-only copies of projects, so all its member fileshares will be included. These can be taken manually or scheduled at intervals of minutes, hours, days or weeks. You can hide the snapshots or make them visible, decide how many should be kept, perform rollbacks using selected snapshots, and clone them so they appear as new writable shares.

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