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Nexsan SASBeast storage review

Nexsan’s SASBeast is capable of offering a truly monstrous storage capacity at a very competitive price.

You can choose your own RAID configurations, decide which drives are to be included and split them up into logical volumes. For hot-sparing, drives can be dedicated to a specific array or they can be floating and available to any array. Volume creation comes next and you decide which FC and data ports you want to map them to. We found access controls particularly good as you can limit host access to specific FC and iSCSI data ports and decide on read only or read/write access.

For testing we used Boston Supermicro dual Xeon 5100 and Dell PowerEdge 1950 dual Xeon 5300 servers both running Windows Server 2003 R2. Both had LSI 4Gbps FC HBAs and ran the latest Microsoft iSCSI initiator. Once the hosts were connected over FC their WWPNs were revealed in the SASBeast's console and we could also see their iSCSI IQNs once they had logged in.

Using the Iometer utility we found FC performance to be on the money with a single host reporting a top raw read speed of 366MB/sec. Running the same test simultaneously on the second server with it accessing a separate volume saw a high cumulative throughput of 730MB/sec.

Initial results from our iSCSI performance tests had us scratching our heads as each server only reported a top read speed of 59MB/sec well below what we expected. We then recalled our tests on Nexsan's SASBoy and remembered that these appliances must have Gigabit Jumbo frames enabled.

On our Netgear GSM7328S switch - we configured MTUs of 9216 bytes - activated Jumbo support on the Intel Gigabit adapters in our servers and switched on it for the SASBeast's data ports. Running the Iometer tests again now saw each host delivering a much improved read throughput of between 95-100MB/sec.

MPIO is supported for fault tolerant IP SAN links and Microsoft's iSCSI initiator v2 and above has the required DSM (device specific module) as standard. Nexsan's new MultiSAN IO solution offers more control over MPIO and comprises its own DSM plus link monitoring and management software. It displays all MPIO links and allows you to monitor throughput and apply four different load balancing policies to each one.

There's little on the market that can touch the SASBeast for sheer storage capacity and it also offers an excellent cost per gigabyte. It's easy enough to deploy and manage, has full component redundancy and delivers in the performance stakes.

Verdict

Nexsan’s mighty SASBeast shows you don’t have to pay a fortune for a high capacity FC and IP SAN storage array. Performance across the board is up with the best and it delivers good management facilities and masses of fault tolerance whilst the AutoMAID can help reduce power consumption.

Chassis: 4U rack

CPU: Per controller: 533MHz MIPS 7000

Storage: 42 x 300GB Hitachi Ultrastar 15K SAS drives

RAID: 2 x hot-swap RAID controllers with LSI SAS controller, 2GB cache and battery backup

Array support: RAID0, 1, 10, 4, 5, 6, hot-swap and global hot-standby

Data ports: Per controller: 2 x 4Gbps FC; 2 x Gigabit Ethernet iSCSI

Power: 2 x 1100W hot-swap supplies

Management: CLI, Nexsan Storage Manager and web browser

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