AMI StorTrends 3200n
Monday, December 06, 2010
If you are looking for an easy to manage, centralized file data storage for Windows, Linux and Mac clients, especially for handling large files, then this is a good option Rahul Sah
If you're contemplating the purchase of a centralized file data storage for your existing network, than this NAS could be a good option. The AMI StorTrends 3200n NAS appliance can be deployed by mid-sized enterprises or workgroups in a large enterprise. It's a 3U rack-mountable appliance with 16 bays for SATA drives, which can deliver up to 32 TB of storage. The box we received for review was populated with 16, 500 GB SATA drives, giving up to 8TB of storage.
The StorTrends 3200n boasts of enterprise level features like snapshot scheduling, snapshot assisted replication, thin and auto provisioning, multiple RAID type support, etc. Not only that, it also supports scalability, through which you can add up to three more StorTrends 3201j JBOD enclosures to existing StorTrends 3200n. When each of the bays is populated with 2TB SATA drive, you can have 96 TB of additional raw capacity augmented to the 32TB of your NAS box storage capacity. Data security is of prime importance, and with snapshot capability of StorTrends 3200n, the administrator can review and mount the data snapshot back to recover the lost data quickly.
The manageability of the NAS is made easy with the ManageTrends web-based GUI, that provides administrators with an intuitive interface to discover and manage the StorTrends appliances over the network, so that their performance can be configured and monitored. ManageTrends also monitors the storage performance, capacity and storage-related events, and provides a detailed analysis of storage usage, availability of the storage servers.
The downside is its price. At this price, it only provides file based access. It would have been nice if it could also provide block level access, which is found in many IP SANs.
Setting up and configuring StorTrends 3200n appliance is easy. It takes an IP address from a nearby DHCP server, which you can then use to manage the appliance through its ManageTrends GUI. You can create storage pools, within which you can have multiple data volumes of different RAID levels. We created a storage pool of 4TB and kept around 20% of storage space for snapshot, as recommended, and used RAID 5 for maximum data protection. Also through the interface, we scheduled the snapshot for every 1-hour interval. The GUI also shows a system health management screen with a picture of the appliance where the problem or error areas are highlighted. This way, an administrator can see if a chassis fan has failed or the internal temperature of the NAS box has increased, etc.
To gauge the performance of this NAS, we used Intel's NAS Performance Toolkit (NASPT) and the IOmeter benchmark. NASPT is a comprehensive benchmark that emulates the behavior of actual applications and uses a set of real world workload traces gathered from typical digital applications. As the name suggests, it's squarely aimed at measuring the performance of NAS boxes. IOmeter on the other hand measures the throughput and number of IO/sec of any storage device, and can be used to gauge the performance of everything from a hard drive to a high-end SAN.
We used a client machine running Win XP3 and having an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.93 GHz CPU, and 4 GB RAM. We ran both benchmarks on the NAS under two scenarios:
1. When it was completely initialized
2. When a drive fails and NAS is rebuilding itself. Here, we configured the NAS with RAID 5, pulled out one drive from the chassis to see the performance difference while the NAS is rebuilding the lost data for the pulled out drive.
Besides IOMeter and NASPT, we also created a simple file transfer test of our own, wherein we compiled a 20 GB folder of various files, ISOs, movie files, etc. We transferred the 20GB folder from the client to the NAS box. When the NAS was in its fully initialized state, it took us 9 minutes 55 seconds to do the transfer. In the re-building state, the same transfer took 13 minutes 8 seconds. While one would expect the throughput to reduce in such a condition, the good news is that the NAS continues to function even when a drive is pulled out (in a RAID 5 configuration). Coming to the NASPT and IOMeter benchmarks, we didn't really have an equivalent NAS to compare the performance of the AMI NAS against, but the test results gave us some useful insights into the product.
NAS Performance Toolkit Results
We found that the NAS gives great throughput while transferring large files. We could transfer a single large 1.15 GB file from a client to the NAS at 56 MB/s. Interestingly, this throughput was even higher at 61 MB/s when the NAS was re-building itself. The copy back from NAS to client of the same file though was a little slower at 45 MB/s in fully initialized state and even slower in the re-building state at 35 MB/s. We next moved to the test that copies 256 MB of 2,833 files from/to the NAS. Here, the throughput dropped considerably to just 13 MB/s while copying to the NAS and 39 MB/s while copying from the NAS to a client in the initialized state.
The IOMeter results gave us another insight. Since IOMeter is a synthetic benchmark, it provides the maximum IO/sec and throughput that a storage device is capable of delivering. So, this particular NAS could clock a throughput of a whopping 112 MB/s with IOMeter. The number of IO/sec depends upon the size of payload you use. We found that the NAS clocked a whopping 3,480 IO/sec in doing a random read for a 32 KB payload. This dropped slightly to 3,411 when doing random write for the same payload size. The number of IO/sec reduces drastically to 220 level when you increase the payload to 512 KB.
Bottomline: Overall, we feel that the NAS has a good set of features and is a good option especially for companies dealing with large files.
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