In view of Big Blues ardent support for Linux, it is interesting to see that the IBM TotalStorage NAS 100 runs on Microsoft Windows 2000 Server with Server Appliance Kit (SAK). As one of two SAK-based devices in this roundup (the Dell PowerVault 725N is the other), the TotalStorage is less appliance-like than the Ateonix, FIA, and Iomega products. IBMs philosophy is that a device with a half terabyte of storage should be treated as a powerful specialized managed server. And in that regard, the NAS 100 resembles a Windows 2000 server in a 1U chassis with huge hard drives. By including Windows 2000 Server on-board, this device lets customers easily integrate a nonproprietary storage solution into their IT infrastructures.
Since its performance lagged significantly behind the two top performers—the Dell and Snap devices—we think the TotalStorage is best suited for shops that have already invested in IBM equipment. Such organizations will most likely find its performance more than adequate and will like the ability to take full advantage of IBM Director server and workstation management suite.
The NAS 100s hardware platform is manufactured by Quanta Computer of Taiwan, as is the Snap Guardian 4400s. But the similarities end there; the Guardian is based on Quantum Corp.s proprietary Linux-based OS.
With the help of the quick-start instructions, setting up the TotalStorage was relatively simple. After we connected one of the two Gigabit Ethernet ports to our network, the TotalStorage received an IP address from our DHCP server, and we were able to access the Easy-Setup interface. Easy-Setup is a part of SAK and guides you through five Web pages that ultimately establish an administrator account, the devices network interfaces, the host name, and a share. This is what gives the TotalStorage the look and feel of an appliance.
But looks are often deceiving. The TotalStorage remains a Windows 2000 server, and because of that, an administrator versed in Windows 2000 will likely access the desktop via Terminal Services to configure the NAS device like any other Windows 2000 server. In the end, this process can make configuring the TotalStorage much more complicated than it should be.
There are four 7,200-rpm 120GB ATA hard drives in the TotalStorage, totaling 480GB of storage capacity. On each drive, 8GB is allocated as a primary or backup OS partition, and the remaining partitions are bundled into one volume using the RAID 5 configuration. Also, the TotalStorages drives are hot-swappable. Shares can be set up to accommodate one or more Windows, Unix, AppleTalk, HTTP, and FTP clients. A hard drive quota can be assigned to all users, but no per-user limits can be set.
Windows 2000 Server with SAK makes the TotalStorage a logical choice for IBM shops, especially those that wish to integrate their own IBM server utilities and assimilate NAS devices into their existing infrastructures. But organizations that are not already set up with IBM and Windows machines or those looking for a more appliance-like solution will be better served by the Dell, Snap, or even Ateonix NAS devices.