by Kevin OBrien

In the Lab: On-Site Testing Toolkit

At StorageReview, almost all reviews on the site are tested with hardware in our own lab on-premises in Cincinnati. As we grow and expand to testing larger storage systems, the need for proper on-site testing equipment grows. Rather than use gear supplied by a vendor for in-lab visits, we prefer to keep as much control as possible in these environments to ensure data reliability. Of course taking our lab on the road isn't possible, so we've endeavored to create the next best thing, a mini-lab built around an EchoStreams Innovative Solutions very short depth 1U dual-proc server that is easy to transport between locations.

The server is an EchoStreams OSS1A - 1U Appliance Server which comes in a few configurations, ranging from a model seen below with two externally accessible 15mm 2.5" drive bays, to one with two internal 2.5" drive bays to one with four 7mm 2.5" bays to one with an LCD display panel. Of course the main advantage for a portable lab with this particular platform is its 21" depth. This contrasts by comparison to common 1U servers that can span upwards of 30". 

To adequately match the primary LoadGen we use in our lab locally, we've configured the OSS1A with the following equipment. While most components remain static, the dual Ethernet and Fibre Channel HBAs are swapped out depending on the configuration required to push the maximum amount of bandwidth from the storage array.

  • 2x Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2 (2.7GHz, 30MB Cache, 12-cores)
  • Intel C602A Chipset
  • Memory - 16GB (2x 8GB) 1333MHz DDR3 Registered RDIMMs
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard R2
  • Boot SSD: 100GB Micron RealSSD P400e
  • (2) x Emulex LightPulse LPe16202 Gen 5 Fibre Channel (8GFC, 16GFC or 10GbE FCoE) PCIe 3.0 Dual-Port CFA or
  • (2) x Mellanox ConnectX-3 dual-port 10GbE Ethernet PCIe 3.0 NIC
  • System: 21" x 17" x 1.74"
  • Packaging: 36” x 24.5” x 10.5” (LxWxH)

To showcase just how short the server is, we've stacked it on top of the 15.9" deep Mellanox SX1024 switch, which we are also bringing with us to control the Ethernet fabric as well. Leveraging as much of our own equipment as possible means that the results we gather outside of our own lab closely match the results we post in our traditional reviews.

The Mellanox SX1024 switch offers plenty of connectivity, even for the largest of rack environments. While supporting 48 native 10GbE SFP+ ports, it also offers 12 ports of 40/56GbE connectivity.

The EchoStreams OSS1A will be on its first on-site visit this month, leveraging our FIO synthetic tests. We plan on collecting both block and file performance with the server, over both 16Gb FC and 10Gb Ethernet. Expect to see that review and its discussion in the coming weeks.

EchoStreams OSS1A Appliance Server Product Page

Mellanox SX1024 Product Page

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