Buffalo Technology Delivers Enterprise-Level Storage to Branch Offices With TeraStation

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-01-18 Print this article Print

Review: When is a NAS not a NAS? That's a question Buffalo Technology wants its prospective customers to ask before picking a storage solution for SMB and branch office networks. Buffalo Technology's TeraStation is designed to add up to more than the sum of its parts and deliver a storage device that goes beyond what one expects from the typical NAS.

Staying relevant in what is transforming into a commodity market is probably the biggest challenge for storage vendors today. It's a concept storage vendor Buffalo Technology is well aware of, especially in the highly competitive small and midsize business (SMB) and branch office network-attached storage (NAS) market. Maintaining relevance means vendors such as Buffalo Technology must combine elements of price, performance and reliability to deliver what is of critical importance today-value. Buffalo Technology aims for that value target with its TeraStation product line of NAS devices.

I recently had the opportunity to put a Buffalo TeraStation Pro Quad NAS unit through its paces. The model I tested, the TS-QVH4, offered 4TB of storage and was representative of the other models in the TeraStation Pro family of products, which also come with 8TB and 12TB capacities.

Buffalo has gone to great lengths to differentiate its NAS products from competitors, demonstrating why TeraStation Pro units are more than just typical NAS units. The design of the unit sports hot-swappable hard drives and USB 3.0/2.0 ports for expansion. It's powered by a dual core Intel Atom processor, which runs Buffalo's proprietary Linux-based operating system.

Other features include integrated support for Active Directory, Distributed File Systems, printer sharing, uninterruptible power supply (UPS) monitoring and external drives. Also included is NovaBackup Business Essentials, a backup product for Windows Servers and Clients. Buffalo throws in 10 client licenses for NovaBackup. Network connectivity is handled by a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports, which support trunking and offer jumbo frame communications to speed data transfers.

Notable is the device's support for replication, where multiple TeraStation units can be set up for data replication across LAN and WAN links, allowing branch offices to quickly set up a disaster-recovery scenario. Other features which border on the unique include an interactive scheduling application, which can be used to power up and power down the device on a schedule. This is an ideal capability for those looking to maximize power savings or just power up the device for scheduled backup duties.

I found a lot to like about TeraStation Pro. For example, the unit features a lockable faceplate, making it a bit more difficult to steal a hard drive. I also liked the included setup wizard, which really made installing the device and setting up shares foolproof. Other nice touches include silent fans (so the unit doesn't sound like a jet engine powering up) and an easy-to-remove-and-clean air filter.

An interactive LCD display on the front of the unit offers usable information at a glance, such as activity and space used/remaining, allowing an administrator to figure out the status in a matter of seconds. The LCD display also assists in troubleshooting the device and illustrates events and warnings, so problems can be dealt with before they become severe.

Resiliency is provided by the unit's multiple RAID configurations, including RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10. A three-year warranty and 24 /7 tech support round out the TeraStation Pro's features.

Overall, the unit offers substantial value. It provides speedy performance and easy setup, and the replication and RAID features instill peace of mind. The TeraStation Pro should prove to be an excellent addition to any small network or branch office that needs to add enterprise-size storage that is resilient and easy to deploy.

Perhaps the only down side to the TeraStation is price. A 4TB unit has a price tag of around $1,300, which seems a little steep for a NAS unit. However, since the TeraStation offers more than the typical NAS in the way of functionality, it may be a bargain for those who need more than a NAS.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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