Cisco NSS2000 review

The NSS family signals Cisco’s moves into the SMB network storage market. In this review we find out whether the NSS2000 has what it takes to stand up to the established names.

Two features that make the NSS2000 stand out are built in hard disk encryption and virtualisation. When you create a volume you can opt to have the appliance encrypt it using 256-bit AES. You provide a password and when, for example, you're moving the appliance or just want the data secured, you select the lock option, which unmounts the volume and makes its inaccessible. If power is cycled or the appliance rebooted it automatically locks encrypted volumes and won't allow access until the password is entered.

Virtualisation works when you have multiple appliances acting as master and slaves. Essentially, you create JBODs on a slave and import them into the master which then looks after them as its own. Another useful feature is the ability to expand existing volumes into unused space.

Unfortunately, the NSS2000 didn't impress in our real world performance tests. Drag and drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip to a Broadberry dual 2.8GHz Xeon X5560 server returned meagre read and write speeds of around 18MB/sec and the FileZilla FTP client utility couldn't muster more than 19.2MB/sec.

The NSS2000 offers some unusual storage features and the diskless version on review looks good value as after shopping around we found one for less than 300 at Broadband Stuff. Build quality is very good and it's as quiet as a mouse but performance is pedestrian at best.

Verdict

The NSS2000 hits the spot for value and is well suited to environments that abhor noise. Cisco’s drive encryption and virtualisation features are unusual for an entry-level appliance and it’s easy to configure but general file copy performance is comparatively poor. The optional CDP software could prove very useful for small businesses, but bear in mind it will work with any NAS appliance or network share.

Chassis: Desktop chassis Memory: 128MB RAM, 256MB Flash Storage: 2 x SATA 3.5in hot-swap SATA drive bays RAID: Supports RAID0, 1 and JBODs; Network: 1 x Gigabit Other ports: 2 x USB2; USB2 UPS port Power: External supply Management: Web browser Options: Cisco CDP software - 3 user licence; £103 ex VAT

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