Promise vTrak/Datacore SANMelody: DIY option for Fibre Channel or iSCSI

This is a build-it-yourself look at what can be done on a tight budget. The Promise vTrak E610f is a 16-drive enclosure that includes two 4Gbps Fibre Channel RAID controllers that offers RAID levels 0, 1, 0+1 (or 10), 5, 6 (double parity drive), 50 (two mirrored RAID 5 volumes) or 60.

You can add up to three additional enclosures via serial-attached SCSI (SAS) all using the same dual controllers, or as many Fibre Channel dual-controller systems as your switch will support. The Promise system doesn't include drives – you add your own SAS or SATA drives. Installing drives is straightforward and shouldn't bother anyone with hardware experience – there's even a full paper manual that documents the process.

Once the drives are installed, connecting to the system and initializing the RAID set or sets is straightforward. We installed eight Western Digital Raid Edition 500GB SATA drives and eight Seagate Savvio 15K.2 73GB SAS drives. We created a RAID10 volume with the Savvio drives and a RAID5 volume with the Western Digital drives.

The next step was installing the DataCore SANMelody software on an HP ML370G5 server. We didn't count the server in the cost of the system as the server is still available for other uses and a really expensive high-powered server is not required – SANMelody can even run on a VM. The server we used had a two-port QLogic 2Gbps HBA.

You could use a single system rather than a separate server and storage array – one of the many 16-bay storage servers available from a variety of manufacturers, either equipped with multiple Ethernet ports or one or more Fibre Channel HBAs and internal SAS or SATA RAID controllers would give you storage, controller and server in one package.

Installing SANMelody is straightforward, and once it's installed, we were able to create volumes and make them available via either Fibre Channel or iSCSI, set up snapshots, clone volumes and make the clones available as additional VMs, configure replication and enable thin-provisioned volumes.

SANMelody is an excellent option for someone who wants to start out with just some storage and add the data management features later. It can virtualize internal storage or storage attached via Fibre Channel, and add all the features available on high-end arrays, along with excellent integration with VMware and other virtualization platforms.

Return to test.

This story, "Promise vTrak/Datacore SANMelody: DIY option for Fibre Channel or iSCSI" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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