REVIEW: Iomega Packs Enterprise-Class Features in Low-Cost StorCenter ix2-200 Device

Iomega's StorCenter ix2-200 Network Storage will serve small offices, departments and power users well as a network storage device. New in this version of the relatively low-priced ix2-200 is improved iSCSI support and support for Apple Time Machine, as well as field-serviceable hard drives.

Iomega's StorCenter ix2-200 Network Storage device is a harbinger of things to come, as enterprise features continue to move down the data storage food chain.

New in the ix2-200 is iSCSI support approved for use with VMware's vSphere (and older) Virtual Infrastructure platforms, along with Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer server virtualization products.

A recent Gartner report on server virtualization pointed to small and branch offices as a growth area for server virtualization in 2010. Organizations with no more than 25 users will likely find that the $700 StorCenter ix2-200 could fill the need for network shared storage in a quiet-running, field-serviceable unit. The StorCenter ix2-200, which started shipping on Oct. 8, comes in a 1TB, 2TB and 4TB model. I tested the 4TB unit.

The ix2-200 comes with myriad features that make it suitable for small-office use. Among the most important are device-to-device replication (called Copy Jobs" in StorCenter parlance), iSCSI support and Apple TimeMachine backup support.

In my tests, I found that the biggest drawback to the ix-200 is that the administrative interface, which is entirely Web-based, is painfully slow. I dreaded every configuration interaction needed to put my ix2-200 into service. And, it's been a long time since I commented on documentation, but the cumbersome and poorly prepared user documentation is dreadful.

Advanced Features

The ix2-200, which measures 8 inches by 4 inches by 5 inches, is packed with enterprise-class firsts for the ix2 form-factor.

The two hard drives in the ix2-200 are field-serviceable, although they are not hot-swappable. I powered down the unit and removed the drives by easily removing the two screws per drive holding the sleds in place.

A small fan helps with cooling, although the relatively slow-spinning (5,900 RPM) drives and new, user-configurable idle-drive spin-down control help ensure that the ix2-200 is cool, quiet and energy-efficient. During my tests, the unit generally ran at about 100 degrees Fahrenheit and generated little more than a whisper of sound.

The 4TB unit I added as an iSCSI target to the eWEEK Labs VMware vSphere 4 test infrastructure was configured as RAID 1, thus yielding an effective storage capacity of 2TB.

Configuring iSCSI on the ix2-200 was a simple procedure, and I was able to integrate the iSCSI target into the storage associated with my vSphere 4 environment. It's worth noting that both Iomega and VMware are owned by EMC, which explains in part the appearance of these useful enterprise-class features in an otherwise SOHO device.

Those who use Apple Mac hardware will appreciate the new support for Time Machine, Apple's backup utility.

The ix2-200 presents itself as an Apple discoverable device via Bon Jour; this meant that, during tests, no Iomega software needed to be installed on my MacBook Pro to use the ix2-200.

After connecting the ix2-200 to the network, I simply opened Preferences and browsed to the preconfigured Time Machine folder on the ix2-200. After using Time Machine, I added the ix2-200 to the eWEEK Labs Microsoft Active Directory domain, which is not a supported configuration. While the ix2-200 is inexpensive enough that mixed Windows and Apple users could probably spring for a device per department, it was disappointing to lose Time Machine support when I joined the ix2-200 to the Windows Domain.

New to the ix2-200 is a front-accessible USB port and Quick Copy button. I backed up a variety of USB drives by just connecting the drive and hitting the button. Subsequent backups of the same device copied only new or changed files. For power users with a fair number of USB thumb drives and portable hard drives, the convenient, no-muss-no-fuss Quick Copy will be a real time and data saver. I used the ix2-200 to safely store information from my rather vast collection of USB thumb drives in a central, easily managed central repository.

What's in the Box

The ix2-200 can also be a print server, and it has two rear-mounted USB ports that can be used to connect to additional storage.

Replication and copy job utilities can be managed from the StorCenter Manager or accessed directly without the need for Iomega management software. The ix2-200 also comes with an unlimited client license for EMC Retrospect Express Backup software and a three-year limited warranty.

Additional software and utilities support automatic uploading of files from most digital cameras. In addition, a surveillance camera utility enables the ix2-200 to store and manage video. (Cameras are not included with the device.)

The applications and utilities included with the ix2-200 sweeten the pot and make the network storage device a nice fit for a modest-size organization with data storage and sharing needs.

Technical Director Cameron Sturdevant can be reached at