Cisco NSS2000 review

Price when reviewed

You know the SMB network storage market has reached critical mass when Cisco wants a piece of the action. Not content to let its Linksys consumer arm deal with this, Cisco has introduced no fewer than 11 appliances, with the NSS2000 in this exclusive review representing the entry point of its two-bay desktop boxes.

The NSS2000 is big, standing nearly a foot tall when slotted into its desk stand. The appliance accepts two SATA drives from Cisco’s approved list, and for testing we popped in a pair of approved 1TB WD GreenPower drives.

Installation starts by running Cisco’s discovery utility and then it’s over to the simple web interface for some wizard assistance. We opted for a mirror, and were disappointed to see this take nearly six hours to build.

The standard share profile supports simultaneous connections from 15 CIFS and two FTP users, while a global advanced profile drops the CIFS count to eight and pushes FTP up to 16. The reason for these profiles is that the NSS2000 can take CIFS and FTP feeds from IP camera motion-detection triggers.

Access controls for Windows and Linux users can be set using its local database or integration with an AD server. FTP services run from a dedicated share, and can limit bandwidth usage and restrict user access. Soft and hard quotas at the user and group levels can be applied to shares where the first threshold sends a warning and the second stops further access.

Cisco NSS2000

The NSS2000 doesn’t come as standard with any backup software, but Cisco offers its CDP (continuous data protection) option. Costing around £103 for a three-user licence, we’d recommend getting it. After installation, it asks for the folders and email clients that you want to protect and then seeds the remote location selected on the appliance.

After backing up our source folder, the CDP software monitored it and as we dropped files into it they were replicated immediately. Any files opened and then saved were copied straight away and the simple web interface made light work of data restoration.

Two other features that make the NSS2000 stand out are built-in hard disk encryption and virtualisation. The latter works with multiple appliances designated as masters and slaves. After creating JBODs on a slave you import them into the master, which manages them locally.

During volume creation you can select 256-bit AES encryption, and locking the volume unmounts it and makes it inaccessible. If power is cycled or the appliance rebooted, it automatically locks encrypted volumes and won’t allow access until the password is entered.

The NSS2000 didn’t impress in our real-world performance tests. Dragging and dropping copies of a 2.52GB video clip to a Broadberry dual 2.8GHz Xeon X5560 server returned meagre read and write speeds of around 18MB/sec, and the FileZilla FTP client utility couldn’t muster more than 19.2MB/sec.

The NSS2000 offers some unusual storage features, but performance is pedestrian. The CDP software could prove useful for small businesses, but bear in mind it will work with any NAS appliance or network share.


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