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Broadberry CyberStore 224S-WSS review

The first Windows Storage Server 2016 appliance has an excellent set of storage features at a great price

Price
£5,445
  • Fast performance; Robust feature-set; Flexible storage and expansion options;

With its new storage server, Broadberry Data Systems has beaten the blue chips: the CyberStore 224S-WSS is the first commercially-available appliance running Microsoft's latest Windows Storage Server 2016 (WSS2016). And it delivers a powerful hardware package at a very reasonable price.

It comes in the form of a 2U all-Supermicro rack system, equipped with dual 2.1GHz Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4 processors and 64GB of DDR4 RAM. Network connections are plentiful: as well as the four embedded Gigabit Ethernet ports, Broadberry has fitted a dual-port Intel 10GBase-T card.

Storage options are flexible too. The CyberStore offers 24 hot-swap SFF drive bays, which will accept either mechanical drives or SSDs, and supports both SATA and SAS interfaces. The Supermicro X10DRH-CLN4 motherboard's C612 chipset handles up to ten SATA connections, while an embedded Broadcom 3008 controller delivers SAS3 support.

The price includes a pair of 800GB Intel SATA SSDs for data storage, leaving 22 bays available for use; WSS2016 is installed on a mirrored pair of 240GB Intel S3520 SSDs, tucked near to the dual 920W hot-plug PSUs at the rear.

Note that that's the Standard Edition of WSS2016, which has no capacity restrictions and no requirement for client access licences. It supports unlimited disks, along with up to two Hyper-V VMs, and there are no memory limitations.

The new OS brings few design changes; the Server Manager interface is almost identical to Windows Server 2012 R2. But there are worthwhile under-the-bonnet improvements for deduplication in particular.

The volume size limit has been raised from 10TB to a maximum of 64TB, and individual files up to 1TB in size are now fully supported. When you create a dedupe volume, the wizard also now offers an extra usage type option for virtualised backup apps.

We tested it with a 4GB data set, using Arcserve Backup 17 to make daily incrementals and weekly full backups over a month. After each backup, we changed 2% of the data in 40% of our test files and ran deduplication jobs manually using WSS2016's slick new PowerShell 5.1 interface. At the end of the simulation, we saw an 84% reduction in data size -- putting WSS2016 on par with more expensive hardware dedupe solutions.

Other new features in WSS2016 include hardened SMB share security and QoS options for Hyper-V virtual disks. Windows 10 clients using Work Folders also now have file changes synchronised immediately, avoiding the up to ten-minute wait for updates.

All other expected features remain, including thin provisioning, Storage Spaces and support for NAS shares and IP SANs. Simple shares are easy to create, as the wizard's Quick option does all the work.

The Advanced share option needs the File Server Resource Manager role to be installed: this lets you set access permissions, apply share-level quotas and select properties for file classification and data management rules.

To test read and write speeds, we fitted a 400GB HGST SAS3 MLC SSD and fired up Iometer. Local performance was strong, with read and write speeds hitting 1,001MB/sec and 830MB/sec respectively. With Iometer set to small 4KB transfer requests, we saw random read and write throughputs of 118,000 and 46,000 IOPS.

We then moved to a remote machine and tested over a 10GbE network connection: we saw only a modest drop-off, with Iometer reporting sequential read and write rates of 935MB/sec and 680MB/sec.

While the CyberStore 224S-WSS comes with great performance and features, it also has huge expansion potential, with seven PCI-E slots via which you can add SAS expansion cards and external disk shelves. Overall, it's the perfect platform for Microsoft's new storage server, at a price that is, for what you get, very sensible.

Thir review originally appeared in PC Pro issue 274.

Verdict

Great performance, features and expansion options make this storage server the perfect platform for Windows Storage Server 2016 - all at a very attractive price

2U rack chassis
Supermicro X10DRH-CLN4 motherboard
2 x 2.1GHz Intel Xeon E5-2620 v4
64GB DDR4 (max 2TB with LRDIMMs)
Broadcom 3008 SAS3
26 hot-swap SFF drive bays
2 x 240GB (OS) and 2 x 800GB (data) Intel S3520 SATA SSDs
4 x Gigabit Ethernet
Intel X540-T2 dual-port 10GBase-T
7 x PCI-E slots
2 x 920W hot-plug Platinum PSUs
Windows Storage Server 2016 Standard
3yr on-site warranty

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