Review: Netgear ReadyDATA RD52007:17 PM EST Mon. Oct. 08, 2012
For customers looking for massively expandable, low-cost storage that's fast, flexible and easy to configure, then look no further than the ReadyDATA RD5200 from Netgear. The company gave the CRN Test Center an exclusive look at its new high-capacity storage gear, and now we give it to you.
Introduced in May, Netgear's latest 2U storage array offers 12 hot-swappable, 3.5-inch drive bays for a total of 3 TB of SSD, SAS or SATA drives in any combination, and it can attach to as many as 80 drives via expansion chassis to a whopping total of 180 TB, multiplying Netgear's previous model by a factor of five. On the whole, we were impressed with the Netgear system, finding mostly pluses and just a few minor minuses.
For testing, Netgear sent the CRN Test Center an RD5200 review unit populated with a total of nine spinning 1-GB Hitachi SATA II (3 GB/s) drives configured as three, three-drive RAID 5 arrays. Those three RAID 5 arrays were then configured as a single RAID 5 array. We're told that this type of nested RAID configuration is intended to deliver maximum drive performance. In addition, the RD5200 contained two SSDs configured for caching.
The RD5200 can be configured as iSCSI, NAS or both. Configuration couldn't be simpler thanks to its browser-based software and beginner-proof, tab-driven interface. For testing, we created a NAS and some users and mapped a drive from a dual-core Intel Core i7-based laptop running 64-bit Windows 7 Professional with 4 GB of memory. IOmeter was configured with a variety of access specifications for testing throughput and data transfer rate to determine the system's maximum performance. We got briefly stuck when trying to attach to the new NAS until we realized that for new users, all file privileges are disabled. Secure, yes. Intuitive, no.
NEXT: Performance and Pricing
Within IOmeter, testers are able to vary performance by adjusting the number of outstanding IO transactions per target, a parameter also known as the queue depth. Other significant performance swings can be brought about by changing the access specifications, a group of settings that includes block size and randomness.
Most systems we've tested exhibit faster throughput with the larger test-block size (32K bytes) and faster transaction processing with small (512-byte) blocks. However, the RD5200 exhibited the best transfer rate with 4K-byte blocks. In fact, the fastest transaction processing and data transfer performance we could generate all came with the same access specs: that of sequential read operations of 4K-byte blocks.
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The RD5200 delivered a maximum sustained transfer rate of about 106 MB/s while processing transaction at around 23K IOps. According to Josh Jones, a Netgear quality engineer, the transaction rate was approximately on par with expectations, but the transfer rate was less even than wire speed. "Gigabit Ethernet tops out at 125 megabytes per second," he said, adding that under testing with 10-GB Ethernet, rates should be approaching 300 MB/s.
Still, the RD5200 delivers adequate performance for its price point, and it includes software capabilities for which other storage vendors charge extra. The RD5200 features native file- and block-level deduplication for NAS and SAN configurations. It also supports thin provisioning and unlimited snapshots. What's more, links for file and block replication are protected with 128-bit encryption and support backup software from Acronis, CommVault, Quest, StorageCraft, Symantec, Veeam and other major vendors.
The base system is built around an Intel Xeon quad-core 2.66GHz processor with 16 GB of ECC memory, dual redundant power supplies with failure alarm two 10/100/1000 Ethernet ports and two 10-Gb ports; all ports feature load balancing and failover protection. NICs also support virtual network interfacing, all of which is configured dynamically and visually through the browser. Out of the box, the RD5200 is certified for Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.
The software embedded within the RD5200 is ReadyDATA OS 1.0, a Solaris offshoot with the fantastic ZFS file system that natively understands file caching from memory; there's no need for data tiering and migration. It's just automatically fast with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10, instant provisioning and expansion with support for hot spare. RD5200 specs also include support for CIFS/SMB, AFP 3.3, NFS, FTP and iSCSI target support for Linux/Unix, Mac OS X and Windows.
Shipping since late June, Netgear's ReadyDATA RD5200 is sold exclusively through its PowerShift channel partners. Street pricing starts at about $10K pre-populated with 12 SATA drives; Netgear's 24-drive, 4U expansion chassis sells for around $2,500. The ReadyDATA RD5200 would be well suited as a stand-alone storage server for a small company, department or branch office, as additional primary or virtualization storage for existing servers, or all of the above. It's a recommended product by the CRN Test Center.
PUBLISHED OCT. 8, 2012