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Boston Igloo review: 2U-10T-Stor-10GCX4

Boston’s Igloo appliance delivers an exclusive first look at Microsoft’s latest Windows Storage Server 2008. It’s been a long time coming and we find out whether it was worth the wait.

Snapshots for virtual disks provide point in time backups and are included as standard. You simply create a daily, weekly or monthly schedule and apply it to all virtual disks or only selected ones. Usefully, you can also mount snapshots as new virtual disks.

WSS2008 also offers iSNS services as standard, whilst the Storage Manager for SANs feature provides enhanced LUN management. The latter requires a hardware provider for Microsoft's VDS (virtual disk service) which, for the Igloo, we were able to download from the LSI support site.

Along with SIS, you have Microsoft's DFS (distributed file system) another feature you won't find on your average NAS or IP SAN appliance. This enables you to define folders on multiple servers that contain the same files but appear under a single namespace. Clients accessing these shares are unaware they reside on multiple servers so if one goes down they won't lose access to their data.

Boston 5

Share creation is completely wizard driven and you can now define NFS access permissions on each one.

All participating servers must be either domain controllers or members and once the namespace server has been defined, the data in the specified folder will be replicated at the block level to all other members. This will undoubtedly prove useful for disaster recovery as member servers can be in different geographical locations.

We had expected to see more new features in WSS2008 but the fact that everything now comes as standard makes it much better value. It's easy to manage and Boston has deployed it on a good hardware platform that delivers in the storage capacity and performance stakes.

Verdict

Boston delivers a fine storage appliance for the price. Although Microsoft’s WSS2008 doesn’t offer anything fundamentally different to its predecessor, you do get a lot more storage features as standard. With Server 2008 at its foundation it’s on a firm footing and it’s very easy to manage with wizards for just about every task.

Chassis: 2U rack

CPU: 2GHz E5504 Xeon

Memory: 6GB DDR3 800MHz expandable to 96GB

Storage: 2 x 146GB Seagate Cheetah 15K.5 SAS; 10 x 1TB Seagate Barracuda ES.2 SATA

RAID: LSI SAS 8704EM2 PCI-Express with 128MB 667MHz cache and BBU

Array support: RAID 0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60 and JBOD

Network: 4 x embedded Gigabit; dual-port 10GbE CX4 card

Power: 2 x 800W hot-plug supplies

Management: Local, RDP

Software: Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 Standard

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