Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000F Review

Lenovo’s strategic partnership with NetApp is designed to push it to the enterprise storage industry chain to compete directly with HPE and Dell EMC. The new line of ThinkSystem arrays includes options for all-flash and hybrid solutions. In this exclusive review, we look at the ThinkSystem DE4000F all-flash model.

ThinkSystem DE brief introduction

The ThinkSystem DE All Flash family consists of two members – the high-end DE6000F and the entry-level DE4000F. They are all 2U systems, using the same dual active-active controller, the DE6000 is equipped with 128GB of system memory, and the DE4000 is reduced to 16GB.

In terms of performance, the DE6000F has a read bandwidth of 21GB / sec and a random read IOPS of up to 1 million. The reduced system memory in the DE4000F reduces these numbers to 10GB/S read bandwidth and 300,000 IOPS for random reads.

The DE4000F is based on NetApp’s EF280 all-flash array and comes pre-installed with a customized version of the SANtricity System Manager software. The operating system has been renamed ThinkSystem System Manager (TSM) to provide high bandwidth, low latency, and massive data protection at an affordable price.

Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000F: Hardware

The 2U chassis provides 24 SFF hot-swappable drive bays, and Lenovo offers SSD options for a variety of workloads. For testing purposes, our evaluation system provides 12 800GB Toshiba eMLC mixed SSDs.

Host interface options are very broad, as each controller comes standard with a pair of universal SFP+ ports that support 10GbE iSCSI or 4/8 / 16Gb / sec Fibre Channel (FC). We offer four 16Gb FC transceivers and automatically install them to set the port mode.

Each controller has an expansion slot, and Lenovo offers optional 4-port SAS3, 10/25GbE, 8/16/32Gb/sec FC and Universal 10GbE/16Gb/sec iSCSI/FC Host Interface Card (HIC). The storage expansion potential is huge: the controller’s dual SAS3 ports support seven DE240S 24 bays and up to 192 SSDs, with a maximum raw capacity approaching 3PB.

Web browser management is required to access all array functions, but you can also use Lenovo’s SAN Manager to monitor multiple arrays and configure access security. The DE4000F can also be integrated into Lenovo’s XClarity Administrator, which provides hardware inventory and monitoring for any NetApp-based array, but does not provide audit or firmware upgrades.

Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000F: Deployment and features

The installation is very fast and the TSM wizard guides us easily by setting up the array. These steps include naming arrays, creating settings with recommended pools, declaring existing hosts, enabling Lenovo’s AutoSupport and remote diagnostic services, and adding email alerts.

TSM’s home page shows a large performance chart of IOPS, MB/sec or controller CPU utilization, with a time range of 5 minutes to 30 days. Below is a pie chart of storage usage, and next door is a convenient hierarchical view of the storage infrastructure.

Dynamic Disk Pools (DDPs) provide far more functionality than standard volume groups because they apply for RAID6 protection on at least 11 SSDs and allocate spare capacity between them to rebuild faster when a member fails. Other advantages of DDP are that they can apply global thin provisioning and provide the option to add or remove up to 60 SSDs in the pool as needed.

Scheduled snapshots are standard and support up to 512, allowing you to use up to 32 pairs of mirrored volumes. Asynchronous mirroring allows volumes to be mirrored to another storage array, while the optional synchronous mirroring feature replicates volumes in real time for continuous availability.

Our FC host ports are automatically discovered as soon as they are connected to the array. When we create entities for each port in TSM, we can choose from a list of commonly used host operating systems. Because you can choose from a large number of typical workloads, it’s a good way to help create volumes, so you can configure them automatically with the most appropriate settings.

Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000F: FC performance

Since the array only provides dual 16Gb/sec FC ports per controller, we must use non-redundant host connections to see the best performance. The system uses ALUA (Asymmetric Logical Unit Access), so MPIO links across two controllers do not double performance because only the primary link is optimized and the secondary link is not optimized and reserved for failover.

We used a pair of Xeon scalable Windows servers with dual-port QLogic QLE2672 FC cards and got a full 32Gb/sec MPIO link, we connected each server to two ports and configured dedicated volumes on a separate controller. This provides two optimized paths for each server, although TSM does warn us that the link is not redundant.

When Iometer was run on two hosts, we saw cumulative sequential reads and writes using 4KB blocks of 572,500 and 124,000 IOPS, and for random operations, we recorded 401,000 and 52,200 IOPS. We noticed that the TSM CPU performance chart shows up to 100% utilization during these high workload tests. Even so, our random read IOPS results are 33% higher than Lenovo’s quote throughput.

We see that the total read and write rates returned by the two 49Gbits/sec and 31Gbits/sec services to random operations are 49Gbits/sec and 23.3Gbits/sec, and for all tests, the delay is never higher than 19ms.

Lenovo ThinkSystem DE4000F: Conclusion

This huge product launch evokes HPE and Dell EMC because it gives Lenovo a foothold in the midrange and enterprise storage markets. We are impressed with the ThinkSystem DE4000F because it offers an affordable entry-level all-flash solution with all the benefits of good FC performance and NetApp behind-the-scenes storage expertise.

Original Article Source from https://www.itpro.co.uk/server-storage/32909/lenovo-thinksystem-de4000f-review-throwing-down-the-gauntlet