Unibrain S.A.s FireNAS 2U network-attached storage system will work well in most remote offices and small-business environments, although it wont break any speed records.
The inexpensive FireNAS 2U, which shipped earlier this month, harnesses FireWire (800 and 400) to quickly connect to and receive data from FireWire-enabled PCs or digital cameras. The systems FireWire support also lets IT managers cluster FireNAS 2U units as their companies storage needs increase.
Priced at $9,999 for 3 terabytes of capacity, the FireNAS 2U will provide affordable storage thats more than adequate for most organizations. Twelve Serial ATA hard drives (250GB per disk) provide the high-density, low-cost storage capacity.
However, eWEEK Labs tests showed that processing power is not a strength of the FireNAS 2U; it has a single Intel Corp. 2.8GHz Pentium 4 CPU and 1GB of DDR (double-data-rate) RAM. (The devices operating system, Windows Storage Server 2003, is stored on a separate pair of mirrored drives to boost reliability.)
In contrast, more expensive NAS offerings from companies including Dell Inc. often come with dual processors and have high-performance SCSI or Fibre Channel hard drives.
In our tests, the FireNAS 2U showed that it can easily take care of basic file- sharing chores in most Windows, Unix and Apple Computer Inc. Mac OS environments. The FireNAS 2U would also be a good choice for use as a storage device for disk-to-disk backup implementations.
The FireNAS 2U worked well as a general file server in tests, and we found it easy to configure. The use of Windows Storage Server 2003 let us manage the FireNAS 2U from Microsoft Corp.s Internet Explorer browser. The FireNAS 2U supports Windows Terminal Services, enabling remote management from a desktop.
Because the FireNAS 2U runs Windows Storage Server 2003, it can take advantage of Active Directory for user management as well as new operating system features including Windows Virtual Disk Service and Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service.
The FireNAS 2Us hot-swap capabilities ensure that drive failures can be dealt with in a timely manner. The system lacks hot-swap power supplies and cooling, but this wasnt a surprise, considering the low acquisition price of the unit.
The FireNAS 2U has a single Gigabit Ethernet port and an additional 10/100M-bps Ethernet port.
The NAS device makes interesting use of FireWire, allowing IT managers to scale up their storage capacity by daisy-chaining as many as 64 units. By leveraging FireWire, FireNAS 2U units can be networked together without affecting the Gigabit Ethernet networks via which they communicate with clients.
The FireWire software bundled with the FireNAS 2U will be attractive for production environments because cameras and other peripherals can be directly connected for speedy data uploads.
Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be reached at email@example.com.