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Network Appliance’s StoreVault S500 packs enterprise-class data protection into an affordable network-attached storage and storage area network device.

NetApp’s StoreVault division caters to the needs of small and midsize businesses with storage products that are reliable yet easy to use. Based on eWEEK Labs’ tests, even IT shops with little or no specialized storage expertise will be able to get the StoreVault S500 up and running quickly.

The 2U (3.5-inch), rack-mountable StoreVault S500 is outfitted with a 2.9GHz Celeron processor with 1GB of DDR2 (Double Data Rate 2) main memory and 256MB of NVRAM (nonvolatile RAM) that preserves data in cache in the event of a power failure. Dual redundant, hot-pluggable power supplies provide further protection against unplanned shutdowns.

The StoreVault S500 holds up to 23 250GB or 500GB SATA (Serial ATA) hard disks—as much as 6TB of raw storage capacity. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports supply connectivity to the box, and an optional 68-pin LVD Ultra 160 SCSI card is available for adding an external tape drive.

The StoreVault S500 runs the Data ONTAP StoreVault Edition operating system featuring the WAFL (Write Anywhere File Layout) file system.

eWEEK Labs tested a 2TB StoreVault S500 equipped with eight 250GB hard drives priced starting at $6,891. A fully loaded 6TB StoreVault starts at $13,987. These prices include iSCSI functionality and NetApp’s SnapRestore StoreVault Edition software.

Separate licenses are available for CIFS and NFS (Network File System) protocol support ($349 and $459, respectively). A Fibre Channel Starter Kit for the StoreVault from QLogic starts at $4,000 and includes an adapter, cabling and switch. Replication licenses are $749 for each device.

As promised, the StoreVault S500 was easy to set up. The StoreVault Manager software, a Windows-based GUI, handles administration and management tasks. A browser-based management option would be more convenient, especially for users on non-Windows machines, but most SMBs will find the StoreVault utility sufficient.

We were able to create new LUNs (logical unit numbers) as well as Windows and Unix shares with ease, and we could schedule regular snapshots at hourly, daily or weekly intervals.

For protection against disk failures, the StoreVault S500 offers two levels of redundancy: RAID-4 and RAID-DP. Like the more common RAID-5 scheme, RAID-4 stripes data across all the disks in an array. However, with RAID-4, parity information is stored on a separate dedicated disk rather than distributed across all the disks in the array.

RAID-DP employs a second dedicated parity disk and protects against two simultaneous drive failures. Expanding RAID arrays with either RAID-4 or RAID-DP does not require any downtime.

When a new disk is plugged into the StoreVault S500, it is automatically added as a global hot spare. The drive can easily be merged into the storage pool using the StoreVault Manager’s Add Disk button.

We tested the StoreVault S500’s iSCSI throughput performance using Iometer 2006.07.27 and Microsoft’s iSCSI Initiator 2.03 software installed on a Dell PowerEdge 2800 server with two Xeon 3.6GHz processors and 2GB of RAM. Running sequential read and write tests with 256K-byte transfer sizes, the StoreVault S500 managed 65MB per second read and 43MB per second write performance with RAID-DP enabled.

Technical Analyst Victor Loh can be reached at

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