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Supermicro’s New Cluster-in-a-Box Solutions Running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2

Supermicro’s New Cluster-in-a-Box Solutions Running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2

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Hi Folks –

Most of us know the name Supermicro (a.k.a. Super Micro Computer), which designs, develops, manufactures, and sells a broad range of server systems, storage servers, high-end workstations, chassis, motherboards, and other server components. The company boasts more than $1 billion in sales per year, meeting the needs of both businesses and server OEMs who use Supermicro in their solutions.

Supermicro’s extensive market reach is a big reason why I’m very pleased to announce that the company is expanding its set of offerings based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2. Even better, both of the company’s new solutions are part of the company’s Super Storage Bridge Bay (Super SBB) line of “cluster-in-a-box” (CIB) solutions for fully redundant, fault-tolerant storage. And while they’re not the first Super SBB models capable of running Windows Server, they are the first to be delivered as complete storage solutions—with Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard preinstalled for rapid deployment. Supermicro formally announced these new offerings on March 6 and will debut them at CeBIT 2014 in Hannover, Germany (March 10-14).

Key benefits provided by Supermicro’s new CIB offerings based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 include:

  • Reliable, enterprise-grade storage at an affordable price.
     
  • Delivered ready to deploy, with Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard preinstalled and Failover Clustering preconfigured across the storage appliance’s two compute nodes.
     
  • Native integration with Active Directory ensures fast and easy deployment in existing Windows Server-based IT infrastructures.

More information on Supermicro’s Super SBB line of Cluster-in-a-Box solutions running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 can be found here, along with downloadable data sheets.

Capacity and Performance Options

Here are the basic specs on the new Super SBB models based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard:


SSG-6037B-CIB032 — This high-capacity model is a 3U, 16-bay system that supports 16x 3.5" hot-swap drives (SAS1/SAS2) for a raw capacity of 64 terabytes (TB) when fully populated with 4TB 3.5” SAS drives. The high capacity provided by this model makes it ideal for workloads such as archiving or traditional file serving. (You can take advantage of Data Deduplication in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 to get even more out of available disk space!)         

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Figure 1. SSG-6037B-CIB032 chassis and controller module (one of two).

The SSG-6037B-CIB032 is a preconfigured system, built to the following specifications. MSRP for this configuration at the time this blog was posted is $9,999 USD.

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SSG-2027B-CIB020H — This high-performance model is a 2U, 24-bay system that ships with 20x 1TB 2.5” hot-swap nearline SAS drives and 4x 200GB SAS SSDs. It takes advantage of the new Storage Tiers feature in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 to provide 20TB of SSD-accelerated raw capacity. The high performance provided by this model makes it ideal for application workloads such as SQL Server or Exchange Server, which, thanks to the SMB 3.0 protocol in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, can benefit from SAN-like performance along with the simplicity of storing application data on SMB file shares.

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Figure 2. SSG-2027B-CIB020H chassis and controller module (one of two).


The SSG-2027B-CIB020H also is a preconfigured system, built to the following specifications. MSRP for this configuration at the time this blog was posted is $14,999 USD.

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Both models have two storage controller modules (one per node). Each controller supports and/or provides:

  • 6x DIMM slots (max. 32 GB each), for a total capacity of 192GB
  • 3x PCI-E 3.0 x8 slots
  • A 6Gbps LSI 2308 SAS2 controller, which resides as a daughter-card on the motherboard
  • Hot-plug JBOD expansion ports (the SSG-6037B-CIB032 has two and the SSG-2027B-CIB020H has one)

Thanks to inclusion of the JBOD expansion ports, both models can be expanded beyond their internal drive capacities by connecting them to up to four Super SBB JBODs (Supermicro P/N SYS-937R-E2JB, shown below), which each can support an additional 16x 3.5” SAS1/SAS2 drives. Imagine being able to expand your disk capacity by up to 384TB (when using 6TB nearline drives) all while the system is running!

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Figure 3. Supermicro 937R JBOD front and rear views.


Continuous Availability Out-of-the-Box

As CIB solutions that are optimized for mission-critical, enterprise storage applications, both systems include:

  • Hot-swappable modules for all active components, including storage controllers, power supplies, and disk drives.
  • Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard preinstalled, with Failover Clustering preconfigured across the two compute nodes. This makes it possible to deploy one of these CIB solutions in as little as 30 minutes when installed in an existing Active Directory domain!
  • A cable-free controller module design (shown in Figures 1 and 2), which further increases availability. (Components for the Super SBB line were originally developed for top-tier hybrid storage OEMs.)

Of course, both systems are Windows Server 2012 R2-certified, as listed in the Windows Server Catalog here and here.

Closing Thoughts

According to a recent conversation with Supermicro, their goal in developing these new solutions based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 was to “offer continuously available storage that provides greater value and is priced for SMB and branch office budgets.” And in my opinion, they really delivered. Not only do you get the well-established quality of Supermicro engineering, but you also get all the latest storage innovations that are built into Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard. These include:

Of course, there’s a lot more in-the-box than just the above. For an overview of some of the other great innovations in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2, check out my earlier blog article on my 10 Favorite New and Improved Features in Windows Storage Server 2012 R2.

Cheers and congratulation to the SuperMicro team!  I can’t wait to get one in my local rack.

Scott M. Johnson   
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server
@supersquatchy

Comments
  • Who do you DR protect a solution like this without a blocklevel replication a backbone ? Are there any solutions for that ?

  • Watch out for Storage Spaces performance. Five SSD drives, single parity storage spaces gives you something around 700Mb/s seq. write, when software raid on Linux (metadevices) on same hardware gives you approx. 2Gb/s seq. write. Tried to resolve this with people from MS however "this is a feature not a bug".

  • thanks

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