Snap NAS Device Boasts Redundancy

 
 
By Francis Chu  |  Posted 2001-12-10
 
 
 

Snap NAS Device Boasts Redundancy


The new high-end NAS device from Quantum Corp., the Snap Server 12000, boasts large storage capacity, faster performance and multiple-hardware redundancy—a first for workgroup-class network- attached storage devices—at a reasonable price.

The Snap Server 12000 has the highest capacity in the Snap Server NAS appliance family, able to store almost a terabyte of data, with 960GB raw storage space in a rack-mountable 5.25-inch (3U) form factor.

At $15,000, the Snap Server 12000 costs a little less than $16 per gigabyte, a very competitive price compared with workgroup/departmental NAS products such as Dell Computer Corp.s PowerVault and Tricord Systems Inc.s Lunar Flare (see eWeek Labs Oct. 8 review of these systems at www.eweek.com/links).

The Snap Server lacks external SCSI interconnects to accommodate additional storage enclosures. It therefore cannot scale beyond the capacity of the drives in the chassis, which will make it less appealing to larger companies. Dells PowerVault NAS, on the other hand, can scale up to several terabytes with multichannel SCSI controllers and storage enclosures.

Although many sites dont need storage in the terabyte range now, the Snap Server 12000s ease of use and reasonable price make it a good choice for departmental or remote offices with a limited IT staff.

The Snap Server 12000 has a 733MHz Pentium III processor, 256MB of RAM, a copper Gigabit Ethernet port and 12 80GB hot-swappable drives. A backplane with six dual-channel IDE (integrated development environment) controllers handles the 12 ATA-100 drives to improve I/O performance.

The Snap Server has a software RAID implementation that supports RAID 0, 1 and 5. The software limits the RAID 0 and 5 volumes to a maximum of eight disks, so IT managers will have to set up multiple volume shares.

The Snap Server 12000 runs Snap OS 3.1, a highly modified BSD kernel optimized for file services. Snap OS 3.1 has a small footprint, less than 10MB—comparable to other BSD-based NAS operating systems—and supports file sharing and security in heterogeneous networks of Windows, Unix, Linux, NetWare and Mac OS platforms.

Given that this is an IDE system and that Snap appliances generally arent the speediest, the Snap Server 12000s performance was impressive in eWeek Labs tests. Using Ziff Davis Media Inc.s NetBench 7.0 benchmark, which measures file server throughput, the Snap Server 12000 delivered more than 250M bps in our tests—more than six times the speed of its predecessor (for Labs review of the Quantum Snap Server 4100, go to www.eweek.com/links).

Although the Snap Server 12000 is fast, its performance still cannot best SCSI NAS devices such as Dells PowerVault 755N, which delivered more than 310M bps in the same test.

The Snap Server has a new chassis that houses the removable drives and includes an LCD screen in the front panel. The panel easily flips open to give access to the drives, and the LCD shows useful information including system events and the servers IP address. However, wed like to be able to set the servers IP address using the panel, a capability found in other NAS boxes.

We are glad to see that the Snap Server 12000 offers multiple-hardware redundancy, which until now has been confined to high-end systems and is long overdue in NAS devices of this class. As the first NAS appliance in its family to offer multiple-hardware redundancy, the Snap Server 12000 has dual redundant hot-plug power supplies and cooling fans that are easily replaceable from the back of the chassis.

Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at francis_chu@ziffdavis.com.

Snap Server 12000


Snap Server 12000

USABILITYA
CAPABILITYB
PERFORMANCEB
INTEROPERABILITYB
MANAGEABILITYB

The biggest NAS appliance in Quantums Snap Server family, the 12000 offers a competitive price per gigabyte and good performance, making it a good way to quickly add storage to heterogeneous networks.

SHORT-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // Like its predecessors, the Snap Server 12000 is very easy to set up and manage, providing more capacity while requiring few IT resources. There is no user impact during rollout.

LONG-TERM BUSINESS IMPACT // The Snap Server 12000 offers plenty of storage capacity to accommodate future needs. Its hardware redundancy will ensure longer uptime, saving costs down the road.

PROS: Large storage capacity with a small footprint and hardware redundancy; good performance; easy to set up and manage.

CONS: Limited scalability; no support for external storage.

Quantum Corp., San Jose, Calif.; (888) 343-7627; www.quantum.com

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