Tag Archives : Networking


Server and Storage Tuning

This week at work, I’ve spent a fair amount of time working in the infrastructure space as we conducted a review of SQL Server and the underlying network infrastructure.  As always, it inspired me to take a look at my home configuration – and do some tinkering.

NIC Teaming

The first thing which piqued my interest, was that Windows Server 2012 (and R2) now supports native NIC teaming – particularly for use in Hyper-V.   I have a quad port PCIe adapter which features 4x1GB ports – just begging to be teamed.

nic-teaming

So I began there.  As you can see from the screenshot above, I achieved the desired outcome, but I’m still awaiting the performance counter results which will show how well it performs during “normal” usage.

Networked Storage

My next stop is with networked storage.  As you’ll know, I have a Thecus NAS which is utilized as a central location for storage.  I’ve been using the NAS directly via a twin port (2x1GB) native load balanced NICs, but decided to check out the iSCSI provisioning option to map the storage as a native drive.

Using the remaining free space (360 GB), I configured the server to use the iSCSI target.  It worked, and I’m getting pretty fancy I/O results – ~84MB/s transfer rates:

iscsi

So that’s what my evening’s been like today..  If you’re interested in finding out more about either NIC teaming or iSCSI provisioning, get in touch and I’ll write a more detailed article on what I did – and how it’s worked out!!

In terms of ACTUAL throughput (rather than Windows’ occasional inaccurate estimates), I used a tool from here: http://www.attotech.com/disk-benchmark/

The results are a lot closer to reality – about 100 MB/s read and 60 MB/s write:

iSCSI-Perf-Initial

However, to put the results in context, I did the exact same benchmark against a local SanDisk 480GB (SDSSDX480GG25) SSD drive on the same server and the results were about 250 MB/s read and write:

SSD-perf

Theoretically, I could possibly get more juice out of the iSCSI target if I NIC teamed the server, but I’m reserving the teaming for the Hyper-V Network Switch, since the base OS doesn’t need much network love directly.


Network Storage 1

imageRecently I bought a brand new Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, as I’ve wanted (for a while) to redo my approach to storage capacity and – more specifically – add some fault tolerance (by way of redundant disks).

I did some research and looked in to a number of NAS suppliers.  A friend of mine bought a Drobo Storage Device last year, and I was very interested although what I wanted was out of my price range.  In the end I settled on something less expansive (feature wise) and decided on a Thecus N5200XXX 5 Bay Desktop NAS.

Originally I was going to fill it with five 3 TB drives, but when I went to buy disks only 2 TB versions (WD Black) were available, so I made do with a 10 TB base.  I wanted a RAID 5 configuration, which left me with about 7.5 TB of RAID capacity.  I’d like to write more about it, but it’s still formatting, so I’ll have to post an update later this week about how it functions.

Setting it up though, was quite easy.  It was simplicity itself to screw the drives into the drive caddies, and insert them into the device.  Each bay can be locked with a key, and fits perfectly into the chassis.  The information panel at the bottom displays status information which can be quite handy.

Most of the grunt work is done via the built in web interface, and most of the configuration is user settable.  Until my RAID array is properly formatted, I won’t get to play with too many of the settings, but there’s an enticing array of functionality.

All I can say at the moment is that the unit looks good, isn’t too noisy and was simplicity itself to start the configuration.  There seems to be a lot of great functionality, and I can’t wait to benchmark the I/O performance.

Disks:  5x WD 3.5" Black 2TB WD2002FAEX SATA 3 7200 rpm
Disk Specs: http://wdc.com/global/products/specs/?driveID=899&language=1

Model#: WD2002FAEX
Interface: SATA 6 Gb/s
Form Factor: 3.5 Inch
RPM: 7200
Capacity: 2 TB
Cache: 64 MB

NAS Features, from the official site:

Features
  • Extreme Speed
    With a power-house of a processor in the Intel Atom D525 running at 1.8GHz, the N5200XXX runs circles around the competition. Combined with 1GB of super fast DDR3 RAM, that means incredible transfer speeds and less time spent waiting.

  • Extreme Data Backup
    Secure your data with the sophisticated features and refined simplicity that only Thecus can offer. Incremental backups and recover data with Acronis’s True Image software, take and revert back to system snapshots at your leisure, and remotely backup to anywhere in the world with native Rsync support.

  • Extreme Power Management
    N5200XXX supports scheduled power on/off. With this feature, users can set what time the system turns on or off. This feature is a big plus for people who want to conserve energy. Wake-On-LAN enables users to remotely turn the system on without leaving their seat.

  • Extreme Protection
    Put safety first with AES256bit RAID volume encryption and USB Key functionality. An impenetrable wall of protection is at your disposal to make sure only those you want can access your data, and no one else. Simply set up a USB flash drive key that unlocks your data with no hassle and maximum protection.

  • iSCSI Thin Provisioning Support
    Get the most out of your storage space with the extreme speed of iSCSI and the efficiency of iSCSI thin provisioning. Connect through iSCSI for the fastest data transfer speeds available and make wasted disk space a thing of the past with thin provisioning’s flexible storage functionality.

  • Online RAID Volume Management
    Managing RAID volumes has never been easier thanks to the N5200XXX’s Online RAID Volume Management. Administrators can easily expand or migrate RAID volumes without having to power down the system, eliminating costly downtime.

Other Reviews

http://www.thecus.com/media_news_page.php?NEWS_ID=4309

http://www.tweak.dk/review/Thecus_N5200XXX_5_disk_NAS_server/1333/5/1
http://www.pcpro.co.uk/reviews/storage-appliances/370804/thecus-n5200xxx