Tiko Classic 340 review
It may not have such a high profile in the UK, but Tiko Computer Corporation could easily remedy that with its Classic 340 NAS appliance. It’s one member of a modest family of DAS, NAS and RAID solutions and, along with offering the standard fare of NAS features, it adds the iSCSI and NDMP protocols.
Delivered in a Supermicro SC813MT chassis, this compact package offers a good specification at a price that beats the pants off HP’s ProLiant DL100 (see p193). True, the memory contingent and processing power are lower but you get the same tasty 1TB of Serial ATA network storage. Costs have been cut by using a Linux kernel, which has been customised to fit neatly on a 64MB flash memory module. RAID options aren’t so good though. The motherboard sports Adaptec’s HostRAID controller, which can be used to create mirrored and striped arrays, but Tiko would prefer you to use OS-based software arrays, as this brings RAID5 into the picture. The 340 does come in for the same criticism as HP for noise levels, as the trio of whining internal fans won’t be welcome in a quiet office.
Installation is swift – just point a browser at the appliance’s default IP address and you’ll be greeted by a tidy interface. Security is good, as HTTPS administrative connections are required and the appliance also supports Active Directory and ACLs. The disks are initially supplied as a JBOD, which can be carved up into different RAID arrays and volumes. By placing arrays in volume groups you can dynamically increase the capacity of a volume as demand dictates.
Snapshots are on the menu for point-in-time backups of selected volumes and you can run full and incremental backups to a locally attached DLT or DAT tape drive, although no scheduling facilities are provided. The appliance supports Windows, Unix, Linux and Macintosh clients, and you can apply disk quotas at the group and user level to control storage usage.
iSCSI features are limited, particularly for security, but setting up targets is incredibly easy. You simply pick an available hard disk or RAID array and export it. There’s nothing else to do here as all iSCSI parameters are preset and the target IQN is predefined and can’t be modified. All we had to do was log on remotely using Microsoft’s freely available initiator software, then configure the exported drive as a locally attached volume on our test dual Xeon system running Windows Server 2003.
Raw performance over gigabit Ethernet for Windows SMB/CIFS shares was particularly good and the Linux OS proved to be slightly nimbler than the Windows-powered DL100. With standard shares mapped from both the Tiko and HP appliances, we saw the open-source Iometer return 78MB/sec and 72MB/sec respective transfer rates with 100 per cent sequential read operations using 64KB request transfer sizes. IP SAN performance wasn’t so good. With Iometer hooked up to an iSCSI target, raw average throughput using the same parameters dropped to around 57MB/sec.
Tiko may be a comparatively small vendor, but it knows how to deliver a good value storage appliance. The iSCSI features are minimal, but this appliance packs a good specification at a price that’s substantially lower than a lot of the competition.