Broad­berry Cy­berS­tore 224S-WSS

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


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 X10DRHCLN4 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

“At the end of the sim­u­la­tion, we saw an 84% re­duc­tion in data size – putting WSS2016 on par with more ex­pen­sive hard­ware dedupe so­lu­tions”

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.

ABOVE The 24 hotswap SFF drive bays ac­cept both SSDs and me­chan­i­cal drives

LEFT WSS2016 is as easy to con­fig­ure as its pre­de­ces­sor and de­liv­ers top data dedu­pli­ca­tion rates

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