Cisco NSS 326 Smart Storage review

Cisco has another stab at the SMB NAS market with a range of new desktop appliances. Read this exclusive review of its NSS 326 Smart Storage to see whether it’s got it right this time.

Price
£915

Cisco may be a big cheese in the mid-range to enterprise network storage sector but it's still finding its feet in the SMB market. We weren't overly impressed with its NSS2000 desktop NAS appliance as we found it wanting for performance and features. Cisco didn't like it much either as it discontinued the model back in June.

Cisco's latest NSS 300 Smart Storage series aims to remedy these shortcomings and in this exclusive review we put the six-bay NSS 326 through its paces. This model sits at the top of a family of three appliances with Cisco also offering quad- and dual-drive boxes.

The NSS 326 has a good range of port choices. The two Gigabit Ethernet ports can be teamed up for load balancing and link resilience. At the back you have four USB2 ports and two eSATA ports for adding external storage devices.

Installation is a cinch as you load your choice of Cisco certified SATA hard disks, power the unit on and use the backlit LCD panel and control pad to choose a RAID array. We installed three 1TB WD GreenPower SATA disks and a RAID-5 array took nearly five hours to create during which time the volume could not be used.

Cisco's smart-looking Ajax-based web interface provides a sidebar menu listing all the available features - clicking one shows that feature's various options in the main window. The NSS 326 has a veritable bonanza of features as along with RAID-5, it supports mirrors, stripes and dual-redundant RAID-6 arrays.

Windows, Linux, Unix and Mac clients are on its guest list while for access control you can use the appliance's local user and group database or link up with an AD domain authentication server. We criticised Cisco's NSS2000 for its poor client support as it was restricted to handling simultaneous connections from fifteen CIFS and two FTP users. The NSS 326 has no such limitations on the number of client connections.

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