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Suggestion for Enterprise Reviews

8 posts in this topic

When reviewing enterprise devices, I'd like to see a little more depth to the management and monitoring of these devices, particularly for low-end gear where the manufacturer may reduce the featureset. Two or three sentences ought to cover it. As an example, the recent Seagate 8 Bay Rackmount Nas review, shows a screenshot of the web interface's monitoring console. But I'm left wondering - how we get that information out? I assume it can create email alerts, but can it fire off an SNMP trap? Can it be polled by SNMP? Does the manufacturer have any private MIBs for their devices? How about SMI-S? Are there interfaces to any common monitoring products, such as Microsoft's SCOM? And so on....

I realize some of these things may be high-end features for a low-end device. However, I'm thinking from the perspective of a managed service provider, offering management and monitoring services to small busineses. The Seagate NAS may be the perfect device for my client, but I still need to monitor it with the same framework I use for other devices, servers, etc

Maybe this is outside the focus of SR's reviews, but it's information I'd like to see a little more of.

-Jim

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I think that's a great idea, Jim.

From my own limited experience with "enterprise" drives,

I've been disappointed by seeing some very strange data

reported by custom software that queries S.M.A.R.T. features

and then returns obvious garbage numbers.

Just the other day, someone reported a S.M.A.R.T. number that

appeared to be a 64-bit integer stored in a 32-bit address!

And, that sort of thing appears to be the rule and not the exception.

In general, I believe it's fair to say that the current crop

of SSDs are not really "Plug-n-Play" chiefly because

they are not consistently conforming to any standards for

status monitoring and reporting, notwithstanding the

claim that they are S.M.A.R.T-compatible.

Vendors appear to be offering proprietary solutions

that defeat the whole purpose of a "PnP" standard.

Imagine buying a brand new car, but your dashboard

did NOT display any gauges to monitor key measures

like rpm, water temperature, oil pressure, and such --

and no "idiot lights" either!!

Case in point: although I continue to argue that

a 2-member RAID-0 array of SSDs should WRITE

half of the workload to each member that a single

JBOD drive would experience from the same workload,

the lack of standards for acquiring and reporting "wear" data

makes it difficult to do the necessary experimentation.

Yes, such a RAID-0 array can be run for a period of time,

and then each member can be re-configured as a JBOD device;

then, available S.M.A.R.T. attributes can be queried

(assuming the numbers are reliable and correct).

However, that approach disables the RAID-0 array

when a simple query ought to provide the desired wear data

without destroying the RAID array.

Perhaps the next generations of SATA and SAS standards

should be expanded to require a certain minimal set of status

data acquisition and reporting, particularly when multiple

drives are members of a RAID array.

Edited by MRFS

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Here's a typical Management policy: drives are retired during the

calendar month before their factory warranties expire.

Now, that type of notification can be issued by a custom database

that "ages" drives and highlights the ones that are about to

exceed their factory warranty periods: but, "custom database"

implies a database programmer and a database manager.

But, a more automatic notification would be far superior.

When it comes to SSDs, there is the Media Wear Index ("MWI"):

as a System Administrator, I would want to know when MWI

is approaching zero (or 100) -- whichever threshhold

designates MAX wear.

This type of notification is potentially very important, and timely,

particularly if exceeding MAX wear runs the risk of losing

ALL raw data on any given SSD.

What comes to mind, in this context, are some early SandForce

firmwares that would almost "brick" a SandForce SSD if MWI went to zero

before the factory warranty period expired: under those conditions,

those SSDs definitely experienced extreme performance deterioration --

evidently to keep them "limping along" before their warranties had expired

and after MWI had reached zero.

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Jim, great suggestion! If you'd like, please email me directly at kevin@storagereview.com to go over some options or ideas. I'll be the first to admit that we don't setup any SNMP traps or things of that nature in most of our devices, so perhaps bounce some ideas around on the best way to cover some of the more advanced management tools. I have no problem including that information in our reviews, but I'd like to just make sure we can talk about it in a way thats relevant to what some of your interests are.

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Kevin,

While you're thinking about this topic, and only when you have a few spare moments,

allow me to suggest that you sample the S.M.A.R.T. data for a variety of SSDs that

you have in your current inventory, and cross-check those SSDs

against a sample of different software you can execute to "poll" those S.M.A.R.T. values.

Your measurement methods are already so robust, I'm predicting that

you will quickly find some of those S.M.A.R.T. data are just not reliable.

I see a simple 3-dimensional matrix: SSDs in the rows, utility software in the columns,

and S.M.A.R.T values in the third dimension.

This experimental matrix can quickly grow to the point that it becomes unmanageable,

e.g. add still more dimensions for different chipsets, different add-on controllers etc.

That's why I'm suggesting that you begin with a little "spot checking".

I don't want to sound like a trouble-maker, but a little

"caveat emptor" (buyer beware) seems to be justified whenever SSDs are

not performing anywhere near out-of-box speeds during their entire

factory warranty periods.

p.s. Thanks for a G-R-E-A-T website, and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours too!

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Which SMART utilities did you have in mind? I generally only use hdparm.

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I'll try to find the exact program names for you.

We did receive utility software with the Samsung 840 Pro SSDs

and with the Intel 330 SSDs that we have running now

(4x in RAID-0).

We also have a few SanDisk Extreme SSDs, but I don't recall

that those came with any utility software.

The Intel software is called "Intel SSD Toolbox" (see screen shot below):

Directory of E:\intel.paul15\Maple.Crest

03/20/2013 01:24 PM 35,233,104 Intel SSD Toolbox - v3.1.2.2.exe
02/02/2013 07:29 AM 35,233,104 Intel SSD Toolbox - v3.1.2.exe
02/02/2013 07:29 AM 1,136,306 Intel_SSD_Toolbox_3 1_Installation_Guide_326039-002_Multi-Languages.pdf
03/21/2013 12:47 PM 377,398 intel_ssd_toolbox_30_user_guide.pdf
02/02/2013 07:30 AM 1,728,270 SATA_SSD_Firmware_Update_Tool_Guidelines.pdf
5 File(s) 73,708,182 bytes
0 Dir(s) 1,241,095,340,032 bytes free

I believe the Samsung software is called "Magician":

Directory of E:\Samsung.840.Pro.128GB.1.cd-rom\Magician Software

04/04/2013 10:29 AM <DIR> .
04/04/2013 10:29 AM <DIR> ..
09/17/2012 04:58 PM 15,979,833 Samsung_Magician_Setup_v.3.2.exe
1 File(s) 15,979,833 bytes
2 Dir(s) 1,241,095,340,032 bytes free

After we wired our SSDs to a Highpoint 6G RAID controller w/ SFF-8087 cables,

neither of those programs can now query those SSDs.

And, then there is the Highpoint RAID Management Utility

which came with our RocketRAID 2720SGL x8 PCIe controller:

the latter software appears to err consistently when S.M.A.R.T.

attributes are queried e.g. "Power On Hours" are always zero.

SMART.Details.SSD.1.JPG

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I'm going to follow with a few screen shots of S.M.A.R.T. attributes

reported by the Highpoint RocketRAID 2720SGL "budget" PCIe RAID controller,

on 4 different workstations that I have built.

These screen shots may span several posts, or they may be

merged into a single post.

The first one is the only true "enterprise" subsystem

because this RAID-0 array consists of 4 x Hitachi 2.5" 15,000 rpm SAS HDDs:

paul15.2720SGL.Hitachi.15000.rpm.SAS.HDD


The next is a RAID-0 array hosting the C: system partition

with Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit on a budget ASRock G41M-S3

micro ATX motherboard. The Highpoint RocketRAID 2720SGL

is installed in the single x16 PCIe 1.0 expansion slot, and

the RAID-0 array consists of 2 x Corsair Force 3 SSDs:

paul5.2720SGL.Corsair.Force.3.SSD.jpg


The next is a RAID-0 array of 4 x Intel 330 SSDs

hosting the C: system partition with Windows XP/Pro 32-bit version

and the 2720SGL installed in the primary x16 PCIe 1.0 slot

in an ASUS P5WD2 Premium motherboard:

paul6.2720SGL.Intel.330.SSD.jpg


Next is the same P5WD2 Premium with same 2720SGL

controlling a RAID-0 array of 2 x SanDisk Extreme SSDs:

paul6.2720SGL.SanDisk.Extreme.SSD.RAID-0


Next is the same P5WD2 Premium and 2720SGL

controlling a JBOD SanDisk Extreme SSD:

paul6.2720SGL.SanDisk.Extreme.SSD.JBOD.j


The next is a RAID-0 array of 4 x Samsung 840 Pro SSDs

hosting the C: system partition with Windows XP/Pro 32-bit version

and the 2720SGL installed in the primary x16 PCIe 2.0 slot

in an ASUS P5Q Deluxe motherboard:

paul16.2720SGL.Samsung.840.Pro.SSD.jpg


Next is the same P5Q Deluxe with same 2720SGL

controlling a RAID-0 array of 2 x SanDisk Extreme SSDs:

paul16.2720SGL.SanDisk.Extreme.SSD.jpg


Next is the same P5Q Deluxe with same 2720SGL

controlling a RAID-0 array of 2 x older Super Talent SSDs:

paul16.2720SGL.Super.Talent.SSD.jpg

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