Boston Igloo 64 T-Stor review

Boston’s latest storage server delivers a huge capacity at a low price. In this exclusive review we find out what else the Boston Igloo 64 T-Stor has in store for you.

MPIO (multi-path I/O) support comes as standard and allows multiple redundant, load balanced paths to be assigned to storage volumes. The iSCSI package includes snapshots for taking scheduled point in time backups of selected targets. These are just as easy to configure and manage and selected snapshots can be released and mounted as new virtual disks.

You also get data deduplication included which comes courtesy of Microsoft's Single Instance Storage (SIS) feature. There are some caveats as this only operates at the file level and doesn't support system and boot volumes, remote drives or files referenced though junction points.

SIS uses a Groveler service which scans selected NTFS volumes, moves duplicate files to a hidden Common File Store and replaces them with links. SIS can be activated from the command line or started from the Volume advanced properties in the Share and Storage Management console.

The Groveler service runs quietly in the background and once started requires no further operator intervention. SIS was introduced in WSS2003 but has been updated to add support for clusters, twenty SIS volumes per server as opposed to six and the ability to remove SIS from a volume.

Over the years we've watched Supermicro come up with some very unusual and adventurous designs for its servers. The Igloo 64 T-Stor delivers the same innovation and the only product we've seen that competes with it for capacity is Nexsan's mighty SATAbeast. However, although this 4U server currently beats Boston by 14TB, its 84TB will cost you at least twice as much making the Igloo far more cost-effective as a high-capacity NAS and IP SAN storage solution.

Verdict

The Igloo 64 T-Stor is a solid alternative to the big players in the enterprise network storage market. It offers a massive storage potential plus full redundancy for all hardware and comes with the latest Windows Storage Server 2008 so you’re not locked into proprietary file systems. If you’re fed up paying through the nose for your storage then check the Igloo out.

Chassis: 4U rack CPU: 2.26GHz E5520 Xeon Memory: 12GB 1066MHz UDIMM DDR3 Storage: 36 x SAS/SATA hot-swap drive bays Hard Disks: 2 x 64GB Intel X25-E SSDs, 36 x 2TB WD SATA 7.2K hard disks RAID: LSI MegaRAID SAS 8888ELP PCI-e with 512MB cache and BBU Array support: RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, 50, 60, JBODs and hot-spares Expansion: 3 x PCI-e 2.0 8X; PCI-e 4X, 2 x 33MHz PCI Network: 4 x Gigabit, 2 x 10GbE CX-4 Power: 2 x 1400W hot-plug supplies Management: Supermicro RMM with 10/100 port Software: Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 Enterprise and iSCSI Target preinstalled

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