Is Linksys's NSS6100 rack mounted NAS box more than just a redesigned desktop box? We found out.
As smaller businesses look to using rack cabinets to centralise their IT equipment and save on floor space we're seeing more and more NAS appliance vendors aiming to cash in on this by redesigning their desktop boxes. Netgear was the first to do this over a year ago with its ReadyNAS appliances, Buffalo moved in more recently with its TeraStation Rackmount and now Linksys wants a piece of the action as well.
Whereas Buffalo's new TeraStation Rackmount NAS appliance must be purchased with preinstalled hard disks the latest NSS6100 intelligent appliance from Linksys does not. Its Linux kernel is held entirely in flash memory so you can buy the box empty and add your own SATA hard disks if you wish. Furthermore, it goes one better than Buffalo's hard disk 'quick swap' feature, as it also supports full hot swap capabilities.
The NSS6100 adheres to the standard design as the four hard disks are laid out across the front panel resulting in a rack chassis that's only 1U high. Extending 42cms, it's the same depth as the TeraStation Rackmount but also 10cms longer than Netgear's ReadyNAS RND4425. The system came supplied with a quartet of 250GB SATA hard disks and the appliance supports all the usual RAID suspects you'd expect at this level of the market.
Installation is a real nuisance as the bundled CD-ROM merely provides links to Linksys' support site where you have to download all the required utilities. We found it easier just to point a browser directly at the appliance and move straight to the web management interface. It's clear Linksys hasn't devoted too many resources to design as the interface is very basic and also quite sluggish at times. However, it is easily navigable and provides good access to the various features.
With a price tag close to four figures the NSS6100 does look expensive as it's around twice the price of the 1TB TeraStation Rackmount and ReadyNAS rack systems. So has this box got what it takes to justify this high outlay? The appliance has two Gigabit network ports and with both connected it'll default to creating a failover link although you can change this to a load balanced pipe instead.
Client support extends to Windows, Linux, Unix and Macintosh users and the appliance can provide FTP services on selected shares. The latter feature offers a good range of controls as you can decide whether to allow anonymous FTP access, permit anonymous uploads and decide on the amount of bandwidth available for these tasks. You can also restrict FTP access to secure transmissions over SSL.Access security is good as you have a local user and group database and support for NT domain or AD authentication. Soft and hard quotas at the user and group levels are on the menu so you can use two thresholds with the first sending a warning and the second stopping further access.