Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS 300r review
Iomega has traditionally offered an extensive range of NAS appliances. The latest member of the new StorCenter family is aimed at the small business and corporate workgroup sectors. This slimline 1U-rack appliance brings together RAID-protected storage plus some interesting backup and IP SAN options. These are tied neatly together with Microsoft’s Windows Storage Server 2003 (WSS 2003).
The 300r offers a reasonable specification for the price, although it would have looked better value if it came with 400GB drives rather the pair of 250GB SATA/150 models. Even so, the embedded Promise controller chip offers support for RAID0, 1 or JBODs and the system was supplied with the two drives in a mirror with full hot-swap supported. The bundled Discovery Pro utility makes light work of installation, as it searches the network for appliances and displays discovered devices ready for configuration. You can then modify basic features such as their IP addresses and fire up a remote browser management interface.
We’ve always found the WSS 2003 administrative interface intuitive. It allows you to swiftly create volumes, set up network shares and designate user and group access permissions. General NAS features are far better than most Linux-powered appliances at this level. Extensive client support includes Windows, Unix, Linux, Macintosh and NetWare, and you can activate only those you require. Access controls to network shares are good, as you can use local or domain users and groups, as well as Active Directory. Quotas can be used to limit usage at the directory level and Iomega’s implementation of WSS 2003 also includes the storage-reporting and file-screening tools. The Promise Array Manager (PAM) provides good local and remote access to the controller and arrays. It also offers extensive alerting facilities to multiple email recipients, so there can be no excuses for missing a mirrored drive failure.
The 300r offers useful backup options via the bundled 30-day evaluation of CA’s ARCserve Backup for Windows 11. This allows the appliance to function as a central backup server for other systems with the appropriate client agent installed. We tested these features by locally connecting an HP StorageWorks Ultrium 460e tape drive, and were able to secure our test workstations directly to the appliance. Sites that are already using ARCserve have another option, as they can deploy the Windows client agent to the appliance, allowing its data to be backed up to a remote server with a tape drive attached. Again, we tested this using a remote Server 2003 system with the core ARCserve software installed.
IP SANs are also an option. String Bean Software stands in for iSCSI duties with a 30-day evaluation of its WinTarget plug-in module. Accessed from a separate tab in the WSS2003 management interface, it allows you to create target disks from either files or volumes, which are then assigned an iSCSI IQN. You can implement CHAP authentication, and security extends to only allowing iSCSI initiators to be identified and assigned to specific targets.
Given the price, Iomega could be a little more generous in the storage department, but the 300r is offering a lot of quality features and easy remote management. Licensing the optional software packages will add to the cost, but these are worth considering, as they do bring into play extensive data backup and iSCSI features.
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