Open-E Data Storage Server Paves the Road to Scalable IP Storage

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article 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 (module).

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.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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