Iomega's desktop storage device for small and branch offices has features suited to both personal and enterprise use, although businesses should keep its limitations in mind.
With a mixture of enterprise- and consumer-oriented features
and a target audience of small and remote branch offices, Iomega's StorCenter
ix4-200d network-attached storage device has something of a dual personality.
The device turns in solid performances in each of its roles, and as a result
can be useful in ways that other products aren't.
On the one hand, the unit sports a collection of
consumer-friendly features that allow it to appear on a network as a media server
visible to iTunes, network-capable Blu-ray players and television sets. For
instance, I tapped its support for the relatively new DLNA standard and was able
to browse photo files using a Droid X from Verizon Wireless.
On the other hand, the ix4-200d boasts enterprise features
such as dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, RAID 5 protection and iSCSI support. It
lacks the performance, power and cooling characteristics necessary to earn a
spot in your data center, but can serve well as a file, print or media server
and is well suited as a shared storage device for test lab virtualization
The StorCenter ix4-200d first shipped in 2009 but received
an April firmware update bringing improvements in performance, iSCSI
operations, Active Directory integration and RAID performance. It's currently
priced at $829.99 for 4TB of storage, with a 2TB model for $599.99 and an 8TB
model for $1,599.99.
StorCenter in the lab
The ix4-200d is about as close to plug and play as storage
can get. When I set the device up, about all I had to do was plug in the power
and network cables. You can give it a name if you wish, and you can assign a
fixed IP address, but you don't need to do either-the unit works fine with DHCP
(Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) networking.
Once I got the device attached and running, which only
took a couple of minutes, I had a significant number of options, all of which
were configurable using the included StorCenter software. The management
software enabled me to create users and assign them personal directories, set
up workstation backup scenarios, add USB or
network-based storage and create iSCSI target drives.
As an NAS device, the ix4-200d proved easily discoverable
by client workstations. Once I set up my workstations to see it and assigned
drive letters where appropriate, the device performed just like any other network storage device. In this sense, it's an
inexpensive way to add a few extra terabytes to your network in a hurry.
While the included EMC
Retrospect backup software won't run in a server environment, I could set an
iSCSI initiator to aim at the device as a storage target from anything that
works with iSCSI, including Windows Server. While setting up the ix4-200d is
very straightforward, setting up the iSCSI initiator depends on what operating
system you're running and can range from fairly easy to insanity-inducing.
After configuration, iSCSI LUNs (logical unit numbers) are dedicated space on
the StorCenter and show up in the unit's management utility and on its front
There is a limited-function control panel on the front of
the ix4-200d that let me cycle through the information that the device
otherwise displays in sequence on its own, such as IP addresses and storage used.
There are also two rear USB 2.0 ports and
one in front, for printers or external storage. The device will support
replication to another StorCenter device, to a USB
device or to another network target. You can set up remote access through a Web
interface, and the device will support NFS (Network
File System) and iSCSI in virtual environments.