Based on EMC's proprietary Unix-based Data Access in Real time (DART) operating system, the NS600 is a rack-mounted system with multiple components. The front end of the system is housed in the data mover enclosure (DME), which has two data movers, each supporting six auto-negotiating 10/100/1000M bit/sec interfaces. The storage processor enclosure (SPE) supports 2GB of storage RAM and manages the NS600's RAID 5 arrays, which reside in a separate enclosure. Having the data movers and SPE in separate enclosures ensures that if there is a disk failure, the SPE can provide the data needed to rebuild the disk without affecting data processing power. The review system came with 30 disks, but the NS600 can support up to 120. In addition to the RAID 5 disks, the NS600 comes with another hot spare replacement for any disk that might fail within the cabinet. Connections between the major front-end and back-end components are via 2-gigabit Fibre Channel links. Fail safe networks (FSN) are a key availability feature on the data movers. They allow 10/100/1000M bit/sec Data Mover ports to be configured in redundant mode to fail over to a secondary connection if the primary connection fails. FSNs can be configured a variety of ways - in sets of two to eight ports, as Ethernet channels, or in link aggregations. All connections in an FSN share a single media access control and IP address. Failover delay
To test FSN, the data mover ports 0 and 1 were configured as the primary and secondary network interfaces through a pulldown menu and the cable pulled on port 0. The failover to secondary Port 1 was instantaneous. However, when Port 1 failed back to the primary Port 0, there was a 49-second delay, which is high. Data written to the device during this delay would be lost. From experience, instantaneous failover is optimal; more than 20 seconds is noticeable; 49 seconds is about the time to consider getting tech support on the issue. This delay can be avoided by configuring the ports in standby mode. Once a port fails over to a secondary port, it will not fall back to the primary port (unless there is a failure in the secondary port, now acting as the primary). The NS600 data movers can be configured in two modes: primary/primary and primary/standby. In primary/primary mode, both data movers are operational, allowing users to optimise performance by spreading the load between two systems. But a secondary system doesn't have a backup. In the event of major failure, file systems would have to be mounted manually on the available data mover. In primary/standby mode, one data mover acts as the primary system; a second data mover would take over if the primary unit fails. In the review tests, failover from the primary to a secondary data mover took 90 seconds, which is high for a network device. No sessions were dropped, but there was delay in writing to the file. When a fan was pulled on the storage processor, there was a 19-second delay until operation resumed. Removing a fan on the data mover and pulling a disk from its enclosure produced no delays in operation in either component. During fail-over tests of the storage processor fans, the primary fan was not replaced after a failover to a secondary fan. After 2 minutes the storage processor shut down entirely. This was odd as the three fans are designed to be redundant. EMC says the shutdown was caused by a safety mechanism built into the system to protect against overheating. But with two fans still active, should this safety feature have kicked in? Performance
Because of the limitation of the IOMeter performance-measurement tool used in the tests and the number of client machines available, the NS600 couldn't be taxed to anywhere near its maximum capacity (60,000 TCP connections, according to EMC), but it did have its tyres kicked to determine whether it performed as expected. Two tests were run - one using an I/O block size of 8K bytes and another test with an increased I/O block size of 16K bytes to determine how processing larger block sizes affected the NS600. (The I/O blocks consisted of emulated file server traffic with 20 percent write and 80 percent read data. Eight HP ProLiant machines supported two clients each.) Results of the 8K-byte test were 10 msec latency and 10,224 I/Os per second, which equates to a throughput of 79.87MB/s. (To put these results in perspective in terms of capacity, in recent tests of lower-end, Windows-based systems, throughputs were 6.26 I/Os per second and 7.67MB/s.) Performance results with 16KB block sizes came out as expected. Latency was slightly higher (14 microseconds) and the I/O-per-second rate was slightly lower (9,017) because it was processing the larger blocks. The throughput rate was 140M byte/s, an increase that's expected with the larger block size. Because all network equipment is subject to security threats, two attacks were run against the product. When an Internet Control Messaging Protocol flood denial-of-service attack was thrown against the Data Movers, the I/O-per-second rate dropped 3 percent; a Jolt2 attack against the NS600 caused a 4% drop in I/Os per second. Both are negligible and in both cases the system continued operating. However, a SYN-flood attack on Port 445 (the Microsoft port and, therefore, most vulnerable to attack) created 42 percent reduction in I/Os per second, although, again, the system continued to operate. Management and ease of use
The NS600 came pre-installed - EMC sent it racked, cabled and ready for operation. The only thing that had to be done to get the system up and running was establish a static IP address on the storage controller using an installation wizard. The wizard sets up communication with the browser, through which username, password and other parameters, such as static IP addresses on the Data Movers' interfaces, are set. The NS600 is managed through Celerra Web Manager. This Web Manager GUI is based on a logically designed tree structure; clicking on any item in the tree invokes screens from which we configured the Data Mover and storage systems control station. The GUI was easily navigated and intuitive and included context-sensitive, online help. A Unix-oriented command-line interface is also supported. An additional application called the Celerra Monitor lets you drill down into management data in greater detail. This works well, but provides an overwhelming amount of information. The Celerra Monitor supports visual alarms. The NS600 also can be connected to a modem that will dial out to the EMC support group and report component failures so a technician can be dispatched to the site to fix the problem.