LaCie 12big Rack Network review
LaCie is best known for its beautifully designed desktop storage appliances, but the latest 12big Rack Network moves its focus up a notch to bigger businesses. This 2U rack appliance is aimed at those that want NAS and IP SAN services, a high storage capacity, and the option to expand outside the box.
The 12big stands out on a couple of counts: it’s powered by Windows Storage Server 2008 (WSS2008), and you can easily daisy-chain an extra 12big Rack Serial appliance to double capacity. The latter makes it better than Netgear’s ReadyNAS 4200, which can’t be expanded.
You pay for this privilege, though: the 6TB 12big costs nearly the same as a 12TB ReadyNAS 4200. However, WSS2008 delivers NAS and IP SAN services with none of the excess multimedia baggage that comes with many Linux-powered appliances.
WSS2008 is loaded on mirrored internal SFF SATA drives. The front bays are managed by an LSI SAS RAID card that also has an external SAS port for connecting the 12big Rack Serial. This means you can create new arrays on the expansion unit or use LSI’s online capacity to add its drives to existing ones.
In terms of management, the latest 12big Rack Network moves its focus up a notch to bigger businesses. This 2U rack appliance is aimed at those that want NAS and IP SAN services, a high storage capacity and the option to expand outside the box.
The Server Manager interface provides wizards for creating shares and iSCSI targets, and for the latter you can schedule virtual disk snapshots for point-in-time backups. Microsoft’s file screening, quota and storage report features are also provided as standard.
For testing, we used a Dell PowerEdge R310 equipped with a 2.67GHz X3450 Xeon, 16GB of DDR3 memory and Windows Server 2008 Enterprise R2. With it mapped to a share on the 12big, drag and drop copies of a 2.52GB test file returned read and write speeds of 103MB/sec and 99MB/sec.
Using the 12big as an IIS FTP server saw equally high speeds, with the FileZilla client reporting average upload and download speeds of 107MB/sec. IP SAN performance was also on the money: running Iometer against a 100GB target delivered raw read and write speeds over a Gigabit connection of 112MB/sec.
File-level deduplication for local data volumes comes courtesy of Microsoft’s Single Instance Storage (SIS). To test this we created two shared folders, copied the same 4GB data sample to each one and enabled SIS on the volume. After an hour, the used storage on the volume had dropped from 8GB to only 3.5GB.
Even allowing for the extra cost of the WSS2008, the 12big Rack Network is one of the most expensive appliances of its kind. Check out Dell’s PowerVault NX3000 if it’s too pricey – but if expansion capacity and performance are key to your business, the 12big is tough to beat.