Open-E Data Storage Server Paves the Road to Scalable IP StorageBy Frank Ohlhorst | Posted 2008-09-04 Email Print
Data Storage Server from Open-E brings a plethora of storage options to system integrators, IT consultants and solution providers. Open-E's Data Storage Server line of products aims to combine the flexibility of IP with the commonality of storage.
Let’s face it, IP-based storage has never been cheap or easy. But that's about to change, thanks to Open-E’s Data Storage Server line of products.
The company offers four products that are aimed at combining the flexibility
of IP with the commonality of storage, allowing integrators to build custom
network storage solutions that are both reliable and affordable. With Open-E’s
products, there are two paths to add storage capabilities to the network, iSCSI
and NAS. iSCSI support is handled by iSCSI-R3, while NAS is addressed via
NAS-R3. Data Storage Server (DSS) provides
both functions, and a free version of DSS
(called DSS Lite) brings a subset of DSS’
primary functions to the market.
Channel Insider took a look at Open-E’s DSS, which offers the broadest spectrum of storage support from the company. DSS is available via several channels, ranging from OEMs to VARs to distributors and in several forms, ranging from preintegrated into storage appliances to "build it yourself" modules, which are priced based on storage capacity.
Modules range in price from about $800 for support of as many as 4 terabytes
to $1,200 for support of as many as 16 terabytes. Open-E sent over a
preconfigured appliance for review, which was based on an Intel Storage Server
SSR212MC2 using Open-E’s internal USB dongle
While the hardware provided was impressive and offered terabytes of storage, we chose to focus on what Open-E DSS actually delivers to a business. After all, since DSS is available as a USB module, the hardware doesn’t really matter—integrators can pick and choose what components to use to build their own appliance and eschew the prepackaged appliances available from a multitude of vendors.
Integrators will find DSS a snap to set up, literally. The product comes on a bootable USB module, which can be installed internally on a server or appliance. Integrators will have to make sure the selected system can boot from USB and has USB 2.0 support. They will also want to make sure the motherboard and NIC cards are supported by DSS, which uses a proprietary operating system to boot from the USB storage device and launch the DSS management system.
For those building their own systems, a keyboard and monitor will be needed for the initial setup, after which administrators will be able to access the DSS appliance via a headless mode using a Web browser. Preconfigured appliances can be deployed in a headless mode from the outset.
Initial setup consists of little more than setting some network parameters and other basic information. After that, all configuration and management takes place using any standard browser. Administrators will need to log into the device using the default account information and then define the storage environment. Those steps will configure how RAID is to be used, definition of volumes, backup options and the definition of shares, along with associated rights.
The capabilities, features and options available with DSS could fill a book, but luckily the management interface proves to be intuitive. Users will be able to quickly select what options to use, define hardware parameters, set up shares, and enable backups and most any other feature. The key word here is "simplicity"!
Configuring DSS to work with iSCSI proved to be just as easy. If an administrator knows how to use the Microsoft iSCSI initiator, then setup consists of answering a few basic questions. DSS also works with iSCSI initiators from other vendors and is not limited to just Microsoft environments.
Perhaps the most difficult decision faced by administrators will be whether
to go with NAS or select SAN-based storage,
and that choice will be determined by the needs of the network and associated
applications. In other words, that decision is already made by the time an administrator
gets around to installing a storage appliance, and it is advantageous to use an
appliance that can support either environment.
DSS offers a lot more than storage functionality; the product now supports automatic failover, WORM capabilities and NDMP. That combination of new features makes an Open-E DSS-based appliance suitable for sites that need business continuity services and must meet compliance requirements.
All things considered, Open-E’s DSS fits the bill for those looking for a quick and easy way to get involved with the burgeoning IP storage market. The company’s support of advanced options, simple installations capabilities and hardware flexibility makes DSS a top contender for custom storage solutions.