Iomega StorCenter Pro 200rL
Iomega delivers a solid Linux based small business NAS appliance, but how does it compare with the competition for features?
Iomega has without doubt been in the small business and home NAS market longer than just about any other vendor and for its higher end products has always offered them only with Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 (WSS2003) installed, The StorCenter Pro 200rL represents a break with tradition as this is its first rack appliance to run a Linux kernel.
WSS2003 brings a number of pros and cons with it as it offers a vastly superior range of features to most Linux based systems but these do come at a comparatively high price. It's clear price is the biggest bonus for the 200rL as the 1TB model on review costs a lot less than Iomega's WSS2003 versions but here we find out whether it stacks up in the features department as well.
The 200rL is a well built 1U rack system and the review model came with a quartet of 250GB SATA hard disks mounted in solid hot-swap carriers easily accessible at the front. The system is supplied with them preconfigured as a four drive RAID-5 array but you can break this and create a stripe, a dual-drive mirrored stripe or just use them as separate drives.
The hardware specification is a mixed bag as processing comes courtesy of a 3.2GHz Celeron D module but this is only teamed up with a meagre 512MB of DDR memory. You can't upgrade this as the cooling shield covering the processor and memory sockets is glued in place. The network connection is handled by a single Gigabit Ethernet port and you get three USB ports for adding external storage devices and sharing printers over the network. Cooling is handled by a pair of fans at the rear but noise levels are high enough to make it quite obtrusive in a small office environment. It'll be fine in a rack enclosure but it's not something we'd want sitting on a desk near us.
The bundled Iomega Discovery utility makes light work of installation as it hunts down the appliance on the network and provides quick links for mapping drives and running the web management interface. We also noticed that Iomega has now implemented secure management access over HTTPS although you can't enforce this.
The web interface is easy enough to use and is almost identical to that offered by Iomega's desktop Linux appliances. The home page provides a basic status report on the appliance and available storage space along with a control panel alongside for restarting and shutting down the appliance and returning it to factory defaults. System alerts can be sent to up to three email accounts and the appliance supports SMTP server authentication. You can also connect an intelligent UPS to one of the USB ports where the appliance will monitor battery power and shut down before it runs out.
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