Reviewing the Western Digital DS6100–Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials NAS

Hi Folks,
I had the pleasure of receiving a WD DS6100 Server at Microsoft and I’ve been playing with it all summer. I am happy to report that this little server cube is like Clark Kent, inside is a super-sized server with 16TB of storage just waiting to bust out when you need it. With two 1GB Ethernet ports, I am able to copy files and sustain the throughput at 200Mb per second, which is pretty close to “wire speed”. It takes a very balanced server to be able to sustain high throughput from the disk all the way up the stack and across the network and this WD DS6100 handled it easily.

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Inside this toaster-sized cube is a really capable NAS server, domain controller, remote access gateway, streaming media player and it makes server administration and file-sharing a snap. The server runs Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, which has all the cool small-business and home-server features that existed in previous releases, like a simple UI dashboard for management tasks and it has the latest storage features found in Windows Server, including SMB 3, iSCSI target, NFS, DFS, Quotas, file-screens, file classification, storage spaces, RDMA, and much more.

For me, the most compelling features of this server are the powerful components and the redundant options that keep the server running. This single server comes with 2 power supplies – which I think is a brilliant addition -- if one of the A/C adapters blows up, or your breaker trips on one electrical circuit, the server can continue running. The data on the hard disks is protected with redundancy using Storage Spaces and it can be setup in dual or triple-mirrored configurations to ensure zero data loss even in the event of a 2-drive failure.

Inside the box are some pretty nice components:

  • XEON E3-1265LV2 QUAD core* processor – this is more power than most boxes this size that use Atom processors or even smaller SOCs.
  • The DS6100 I played with had 16GB of ECC memory and 4x4TB WD datacenter-class drives for a whopping 16TB inside.
  • Up to 16GB ECC memory
  • Can use RAID or built-in Storage Spaces
  • Dual DC-in power supply ports
  • Two dedicated 2.5” boot drives with the operating system installed, preconfigured in RAID-1
  • Dual GbE ports that can be easily teamed together, and it can leverage the SMB multichannel feature that will automatically balance file transfers across all the network adapters in the system. I has able to easily saturate both ports and got 200Mb per second consistently over the network. That is a pretty healthy transfer rate and it met my needs pretty well.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:

  • Simple IT-pro dashboard lets you configure the most common server settings, create new users and reset their passwords with ease.
  • Centralized backup for up to 50 PC/Mac users via Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials
  • Built in domain controller and full support for Active Directory services.
  • Built-in remote-access gateway. Give your entire organization access to their files from anywhere on the net.
  • Built-in integration with Azure Backup and Office 365

There are a couple other reviews online, the general consensus is very positive:

- Review: Western Digital WD Sentinel DS6100“One of the first small business servers to ship with Microsoft's new Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, the WD Sentinel DS6100 offers high-end performance in a sleek and compact package. For those that need the power, the Sentinel offers strong performance and simplicity in spades.”

- Small Business Server Review: WD Sentinel DS6100 – “Virtually every small business would benefit from having a server, but countless small firms—say, those with one up to a couple dozen employees—do without one under the misguided impression that the benefits don’t justify the cost and effort it takes to buy, run, and maintain a server. If that describes your company, you may want to take a close look at WD’s new Sentinel DS6100 small business server , which packs a full-featured Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials operating system and gobs of redundant storage into a powerful and moderately-priced box…”

While this blog is focused on Windows Storage Server, I really think that this hardware and the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials Operating System makes for a fantastic NAS device -- you get all the cool remote-access, PC backup, media streaming and management features that were originally developed in Windows Home Server and you get a plethora of the Windows Server features found in the high-end versions.

Well done WD!

Scott Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server