HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault Review

We have received a request to review HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault, which is the storage solution offered by HP and it’s also one of their latest breed on NAS system. Today, we have got John Obeto from Absolutely Windows to do the full review with his own scenarios.

There are two parts overall, starting from how is the performance on backing up to 10 computers to HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault, to making a Back up of servers and clients at a small business with less than 20 users.

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The Review

Introduction

The HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault, in this iteration, is somewhat of a hybrid: the offspring of the HP MediaSmart Server EX495 on steroids, and a genuine business need for a hard disc-based storage solution.

I have been reviewing the x510 Data Vault for the past several weeks, and I have come away seeing the potential of this product to deliver a powerful, yet simple storage solution to small businesses.

The Data Vault is built on two things: the Microsoft Windows Home Server (WHS) software and hardware by HP.

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The HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault Review #1

Scenario 1: A typical usage scenario backing up about 10 computers

Packaged snugly in a business-like box (as opposed to the flashy consumer box), our review HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault came with 2 TB of hard drive space over 2 drives. We greedily added two disparate-sized drives to the mix, to test the ability of the underlying operating system, Windows Home Server OS, to correctly function across heterogeneously-sized hard drives.

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The review setup for this usage scenario is The Orbiting O’Odua. Which consists of the following elements:

  • 4 desktop computers
  • 4 laptop computers
  • 1 HTPC
  • 1 gaming computer.

All computers are running Windows 7 Ultimate, and some systems are connected to either of two networks, a Windows Server 2008 R2 network, and a Windows 2008 Small Business Server network.

Installation

I connected the x510 Data Vault to the network via a CAT 6 cable and turned on the power.

The second thing that impresses with the x510 Data Vault – the first being the aesthetics of the device – is the ease of installation. There are three discs: a software installation disk, a server recovery disc, and a PC recovery disc.

I popped the software install disc into the primary PC, answered a few questions, and…snap! the Data Vault was operational.

I chose the folders to be backed up, determined the optimal time for backups, and System #1 was on.

I did the same to the other systems, a process which took a relatively short period of time.

Using the HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault

The x510 Data Vault satisfies one critical requirement I have for background utilities: it must work in the background.

Prior to the installation of the x510 Data Vault, the networks at the Orbiting O’Odua were backed up in three tiers: to the servers daily; to an HP StorageWorks RDX module – for critical information, as needed; and to my trusty, yet slow homebuilt 2 TB DAS (direct-attached storage) JBOD device – all information, periodically.

With the StorageWorks x510, all information is being backed up to the Data Vault, and the NAS is used to back it up*.

Seamless internet connectivity is also one of the bulwarks of the Data Vault. It connected to the Internet with nary a fuss. I did have to evaluate Windows Home Server security packages, and in the process discovered the excellent F-Secure Home Server Security 2009 package. A winner of my testing process, the F-Secure product is miles ahead of any other offering on the Windows Home Server platform, and the only security product we recommend for the Data Vault.

Coincidentally, Microsoft released the Windows Home Server Power Pack 3 at about the same time, and I have downloaded and installed the update, which also added several enhancements to the Data Vault.

As part of the underlying operating system, the Data Vault manages documents and media assets adroitly. It allows users of the device to both share, and keep documents private.

Another impressive feature of the Data Vault and Windows Home Server is the extensibility of the device. While HP has included an impressive collection of software plug-ins with the Data Vault, the ecosystem for Windows Home Server plug-ins is very mature, and I can almost bet that whatever your need may be, ‘there’s an app for that!’™

*I am also testing/reviewing an under-NDA 4GB NAS device. It holds much promise in terms of simplicity and pricing.

Conclusions

smallbizwindows3 I have used a Windows Home Server in the past; as part of the initial beta for the Microsoft Windows Home Server product launch, and while impressed with the potentiality for small businesses with it, my white-box home server left much to be desired, and I still have it boxed since a move.

The HP StorageWorks Data Vault epitomizes the ideal for an install-and-forget SMB storage solution.

This product can grow as hard drives increase in capacity since HP did not artificially limit the expandability of the device. It is powerful, compact, and utilizes reliable components. The headless design also means that it can be placed wherever other NAS devices are stored, and would not require a drone to babysit it. The use of Windows Home Server as the operating system is brilliant. That OS, built on the innards of Windows Server 2003, is powerful, and as extensible as any other Microsoft-based operating system.

Moreover, this hardware/software combination has none of the annoying atavistic edges the first versions of Windows Home Server had.

Moreover, the roadmap HP has for the Data Vault means that businesses can invest in this product confidently.

Resultantly, we are giving this product the SmallBizWindows Absolute Best Award, as it represents the best local/cloud storage solution for small businesses today.

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Scenario 2: Backing up servers and clients at a small business. – less than 20 users.

At our Northern Colorado MedikLabs, there are currently about 13 client systems – desktops and Tablet PCs – making it obviously outside the licensing maximum of 10 systems set by Microsoft for Windows Home Server.

To eliminate that very artificial restriction, and stay within the EULA, I am going to use server backups.

All the users and systems at MedikLabs log on to the Windows Server 2008 (HP ProLiant ML350 G5), and store data there. The EMR program runs on a Server 2003 box (HP ProLiant ML110 G5), and I have a Windows Server 2008 box (HP ProLiant ML115 G5) there as a OU for Logikworx. The ML350 and ML110 back up to the ML115 which in turn backs up to an HP StorageWorks DAT160 DAT tape drive.

When I found out that I could run WHS Connector on Windows Server, I immediately saw a use for it as an install-and-forget device for smaller companies.

For MedikLabs, this solution would allow me to use the StorageWorks x510 to back up the servers, and my desktop there, a total of four systems, staying well within the Microsoft WHS EULA.

Starting off, I upgraded the MedikLabs EMR program to Windows Server 2008 R2 against the stupid wishes of the EMR’s ISV, and behold, everything has been working great since that day.

I took the StorageWorks x510 Data Vault to MedikLabs for a month of backups.

The x510 was connected to the network there, and I ran WHS Connector on three servers and my desktop there, the HP dc7800.

I set the backup time, and initiated an initial backup.

The x510 went ahead, and did its stuff.

Over the month it was installed at MedikLabs, it just purred all along.

In fact, my thoughts of upgrading the DAT drive to the new DAT 320 or to an Ultirum solution has gone out of the window.

While I still do a weekly backup to tape, it is a result of my old-timer stubbornness.

The effortless way in which the x510 solution backs up data makes me more inclined to specify it for the smaller companies in our client inventory. We can place it, set backup parameters, and manage it form a standoff point via the system’s built-in connectivity functionalities.

We also retain the ability to upgrade the system to larger and faster drives as those are released.

Conclusions

While Microsoft, right now, may officially limit the Windows Home Server software to 10 client systems, an intrepid network architect should be able to skirt that restriction by backing up to the server, and backing up the server(s) with the StorageWorks x510.

It can do the job.

I like the fact that this usage scenario validates the SmallBizWindows Absolute Best award given to the HP StorageWorks x510 Data Vault back in December of 2009.

Equipment used:

  • HP ProLiant ML350 G5
  • HP ProLiant ML110 G5
  • HP ProLiant ML115 G5
  • HP Compaq dc7800

All of the above writing will be credited back to John for his magnificent works and you’ll be able to find his original articles at the following links:

Also thanks to Tom Augenthaler from ivyworldwide.com for providing the hardware for review. The hardware remain at John’s side and it will be giving away in our upcoming weekly contest (which will be held on 22nd February 2010).

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10 comments… add one
  • Hello Ken,
    Good review! :)
    I now follow you on Twitter, and over here.
    Best,
    -John

    • Hey There John, Thanks for allowing us to post your great works here at HardwareSphere. I sure lots of our reader will find your review helpful. :)

  • FrankySt72

    Nice written review, thx 😀 I own a HP Mediasmart EX470. I think MS Windows Home Server is not limited to 10 clients. You can backup as many clients you want, but it is limited up to 10 different users (logins). Greetings from germany ^^

  • Art Zasadny

    Thanks for the article! How did you install the WHS connector software on the server? I tried to install the WHS Connector in a Win2K server last weekend and it would not install. Thanks!

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