Qsan TrioNAS U221 review
Qsan’s TrioNAS storage appliances certainly live up to their name – every model in the range touts NAS, IP SAN and cloud backup services. The TrioNAS U221 is the new flagship of this growing family and targets SMBs looking for an affordable network backup solution that supports Gigabit and 10-Gigabit (10GbE) connections.
The U221 looks like good value when stacked up against Qsan’s more costly P600Q-D316. At its foundation, the U221 uses a basic 12-bay 2U chassis equipped with a Gigabyte server class motherboard. There’s a fast 3.2GHz Xeon E3-1225 V2 CPU teamed up with 32GB of DDR3 ECC memory, and dual hot-swap PSUs are included in the price. The low cost does result in some compromises, however – RAID controller redundancy and external expansion options have fallen by the wayside.
The Qsan’s ZFS file system means that there’s a fine choice of storage features. The TrioNAS U221 serves up scheduled snapshots, data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning, and ZFS also allows you to speed up array performance by using SSDs as read or write caches. What’s more, local and remote replication comes as standard.
Deployment is swift: you can use the appliance’s web console for direct management or Qsan’s QCentral Java utility which manages multiple systems from the same interface. Multiple pools can be created each with their own RAID array type and within these you create ZFS file systems for NAS operations or directories for iSCSI targets. Usefully, you can apply data deduplication, compression and thin provisioning to both NAS shares and iSCSI targets.
From selected ZFS file systems you create network shares, enable CIFS, NFS, AFP and FTP as appropriate, apply read and write access restrictions and use Qsan’s UnifiedAUTH and its Active Directory support to simplify client access authentication to each storage service. For IP SANs you select a ZFS directory, assign a LUN to it and decide which hosts can access it.
ZFS offers plenty of data protection features. Snapshots can be viewed natively as shares for drag and drop file and folder restores, used for full volume rollback and cloned to create a new volume. Using replication, you can create copies of selected ZFS file systems locally or to another Qsan appliance for essential off-site disaster recovery.
The cloud portion of the TrioNAS products is limited to support for Amazon’s S3 service. We found it easy enough to use with our Amazon AWS account although, unlike products such as Synology, you need to know your bucket names when setting up a backup schedule as Qsan won’t display them for you when you enter your access keys.