Iomegas P850m appliance is a good choice for Windows shops looking for a high-capacity storage system for data backup or server consolidation tasks. The system has a competitive price, but upfront cost is still fairly high at $17,000-plus. For sites with Windows expertise, administration will be a snap as the P850m leverages Windows services and can easily integrate into Active Directory.
EVALUATION SHORT LIST
The biggest NAS box in Iomegas lineup, the P850m can store as much as 1.4 terabytes of data in a 2U (3.5-inch) rack-mountable chassis, providing high storage density in a space-saving form factor.
The P850m, which shipped last month, uses Microsoft Corp.s SAK (Server Appliance Kit), a stripped-down version of Windows 2000 Server optimized for file services. We found the SAK Web-based GUI easy to use, and administrators familiar with Windows wont need additional training to manage the P850m system. The Web GUI provides access to Windows options such as terminal and backup services.
The P850m we tested has dual 2.4GHz Intel Corp. Xeon processors, 2GB of error-correcting code double-data-rate RAM, eight 180GB hot-swap ATA hard drives and a single 10/100M-bps NIC. The system has hardware redundancy at every point, including dual redundant hot-plug power supplies and internal hot-swap fan modules.
The P800-series NAS systems are priced competitively: The P850m we tested lists for $17,500 for 1,440GB of storage capacity, or roughly $12 per gigabyte. The 960GB P800m is priced at $12,500. Lower-end models are available, priced from $5,500.
The P850m competes with other midrange departmental NAS servers, such as Dell Computer Corp.s comparably priced PowerVault, which also uses the Windows SAK but offers SCSI disk drives.
Another competitor, Snap Appliance Inc.s Snap Server device, is available in two models. The Snap Server 14000 system, priced at $16,000, offers 1.44 terabytes of storage. The $21,000 Snap Server 21000 provides 2.16 terabytes of capacity.
However, because the P850m and Dell PowerVault use SAK, these systems were better able to integrate into Windows environments than the Snap Servers.
Using SAK also gives the P850m and PowerVault better third-party backup software compatibility.
The P850m uses high-capacity ATA drives to achieve high capacity in a slim chassis. Its disk subsystems are configured as RAID 5 by default but can also support non-RAID and RAID 0 and 1 configurations. We highly recommend that users keep the system running at RAID 5 for best data protection.
Although ATA hard drives are traditionally slower than SCSI systems, ATA systems are catching up fast, especially with the new SATA (Serial ATA) standard. In fact, 3ware Inc. recently announced its latest SATA solution to be used in Iomegas NAS devices.
SATA has better performance than standard ATA and uses small drive cables to save space, allowing vendors to create smaller storage systems with higher capacity.
SATA is an ideal choice for low-end to midrange NAS systems. We expect storage vendors to release faster, higher-capacity and more affordable NAS systems that harness SATA in the near future.
Technical Analyst Francis Chu can be reached at email@example.com.