Read Product Review CyberStore 424S WSS iSCSI SAN / NAS

Broadberry's CyberStore 424S combines Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 with a heap of SSD-accelerated storage for a very affordable price

Dave Mitchell 13 Feb 2014  |  

Configure From £4,068.17  or  Configure


Broadberry's CyberStore 424S storage appliance is prepared for the needs of big business. With Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 (WSS2012) at its core, the 424S promises high performance and expansion potential by pairing one of Seagate's 4TB Terascale SATA III enterprise hard disks with LSI's SSD-accelerated RAID controller.

This 4U Supermicro chassis offers 24 hot-swap drive bays, eight of which are occupied by 4TB drives, for a raw capacity of 32TB. Broadberry supplied the appliance preconfigured as a 21TB RAID6 array, with WSS2012 running from a mirrored pair of 120GB Intel SSDs.

The front bays are managed by an LSI Nytro MegaRAID 8100-4i card which has two embedded 50GB SLC SSDs. These are configured from the MegaRAID Storage Manager utility. Mirroring is the safest bet for read and write cache operations, but you can set them up as a striped array if you wish. The Nytro card supports up to 128 drives.

The appliance is powered by a six-core 2.1GHz Intel Xeon E5-2620 v2 CPU. The system's motherboard has dual CPU sockets, and the price includes 32GB of 1,600MHz RDIMM memory, which is expandable up to 512GB.

The Nytro card has a huge impact on performance. With the cache disabled on the RAID6 volume, we saw Iometer report 2,700 IOPS (input/output operations per second) and 360 IOPS for 4K random read and write operations respectively, with 32 outstanding I/Os. With the cache enabled and brimming with hot data, read and write rates leapt to around 75,000 IOPS and 25,000 IOPS.

We also used a database load with a mix of 66% read and 34% write random operations for a 16KB block size. Performance jumped from 1,100 to 30,800 IOPS with the cache enabled.

The CyberStore was no slouch in our real-world tests, either. Copies of a 2.52GB video clip over Gigabit returned fast read and write speeds of 109MB/sec, and backup operations were just as speedy: our 22.4GB mix of 10,500 small files copied to the appliance at an average of 94MB/sec – a new record for this test.

WSS2012 makes light work of storage management, and the R2 update offers plenty of new features. The SMB protocol has had a major facelift. The iSCSI Target Server now supports VHDx virtual hard disks up to 64TB, and SMI-S allows storage to be provisioned using Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager.

The Hyper-V role is permitted in the Standard edition of WSS2012, allowing the creation of up to two VMs. This can be increased by stacking additional Standard licences.

The new Work Folders role provides remote workers with a “sync share” location on the server to store company data and keep it synced with their own devices. This is handy for businesses that don't want workers using public cloud file-sharing services for sensitive data. Currently, however, this feature is only supported on Windows 8.1 and 8.1 RT devices – Windows 7 support and an iPad app are in the pipeline.

Thin provisioning can be applied equally to NAS shares and iSCSI targets, although the system as supplied doesn't support this: you'll need drives placed in storage pools, but the eight drives have come preconfigured as a hardware RAID array.

Deduplication is included in the Standard edition, and has been enhanced to work with virtual desktop infrastructure VMs. For general storage services, it can achieve big savings. Over a one-month backup simulation, the Binary Testing deduplication suite showed impressive data reduction rates of over 7:1.

Broadberry has put together a remarkably good-value package – especially when you consider that the LSI Nytro card alone costs more than £1,000. WSS2012 R2 offers a heap of useful features, and exceptional performance goes hand in hand with good expansion potential. The CyberStore 424S WSS2012 R2 is a capable, long-term investment.

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