Tactical Advice

Review: HP StorageWorks X1600 G2

The HP StorageWorks X1600 G2 fits the varied storage needs of small to medium-size businesses.

HP’s StorageWorks X1600 G2 Network Storage System provides versatile 2U rack-mount storage that is suitable for a wide variety of uses in the wiring closet, including network-attached storage, an iSCSI target, or a mail, database or file and print server.

The X1600 runs Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2, and comes with a variety of wizards and agents that ease the process of getting the storage server up and running. Because it can hold up to 12 terabytes of RAID 5 storage, the box should provide everything a medium enterprise should need. But in case it’s not enough, IT managers can combine the product with additional StorageWorks platforms.

Advantages

HP designed the X1600 to be easy to use, but powerful enough to be useful. The server management wizard handles basic configurations such as IP settings.

There’s also an automated storage management wizard that will lead IT managers step by step through the process of configuring a NAS or iSCSI target, and will also assist them in managing storage allocations as their needs change. While the setup process is highly automated, managers still have the level of control they require to customize storage for their particular environments.

Why It Works for IT

The X1600 storage server is highly flexible and can fill a number of roles at the same time. Our tests found this server to be easily two to three times as fast as other SATA-based RAID ­servers, in part because of its quad-core Xeon processor, but also because it has 12 SATA drives.

SATA Storage

The HP X1600 features a SATA RAID system with up to 12 drives. SATA drives are becoming popular because of their relatively low cost. However, these drives don’t move data as fast as some other choices such as Serial Attached SCSI. HP offsets this to some extent by having a lot of drives to share the load, and by having a very fast processor. Other similar storage servers with larger drives in smaller numbers may suffer a performance penalty.

The X1600 has HP’s Integrated Lights-Out management console that admins should be familiar with from other HP servers. Once you’ve performed the basic setup, you can put the X1600 into a room, turn out the lights, and not look at it again.

All functions of the server are available remotely, and ILO includes a KVM service that lets IT manage the device remotely. Because the X1600 runs Windows Server 2008, IT managers should require little training.

Disadvantages

HP includes several well-designed wizards to help with setup and configuration, but so many of them have conflicting or confusing names that administrators may find it hard to identify the right wizard to use. It would help to have a guide to instruct admins on which wizard to use (and how to use it). Otherwise, the X1600 almost sets up itself.

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About the Author

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a longtime technology journalist who has directed product testing centers. He is President of Wayne Rash & Associates, an analysis and editorial services firm located near Washington, D.C. He can be reached at wrash@mindspring.com. You can also follow him on Twitter as @wrash.

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