- Excellent functionality, including deduplication, for the price
- Usable web-based management console
- Good performance
- Could be noisy in a small office
Just another NAS? As it happens, Infortrend's EonNAS Pro 800 offers more than most. Aimed at the higher end of the small-business/SOHO market, this device provides a hefty eight drive bays, so it's potentially expandable to 24TB if you use the latest 4TB SATA III drives, and offers RAID levels up to 6. Its ZFS-based file system also includes data deduplication — a feature found so far only on high-end enterprise-level disk arrays.
The EonNAS Pro 800 looks much like most NAS boxes, but you don't buy one of these for its appearance. On the front is a small blue backlit LCD panel that allows you to perform basic configuration tasks. However, the browser-based interface is much richer in features, so you're unlikely to be using it for long. The LCD includes indicators for system status, network access and disk access, next to which is a soft power button, which means that the device draws 1.6W when powered down. There's also a USB port on the front dubbed 'Quick Backup', which allows you to backup an external USB drive to the NAS. More on this later.
Behind the lockable door are robust plastic drive drawers, extractable with a single push button, into which you have to screw the drives, which are hot-swappable. Each bay can be locked to minimise the chances of accidental drive removal. Next to each bay is a couple of LEDs that indicate drive busy and power status, such as a drive failure.
At the back are three fan openings, one for the PSU, the other two for the speed-adjustable fans. You get four further USB ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which you can aggregate to double throughput, a VGA port reserved for use by Infortrend, and, intriguingly, an eSATA port.
Powering up the 1.8GHz Intel Atom-powered Pro 800 for the first time results in a lot of fan noise as they spin up to the maximum, but it quickly quietens down to the slowest of the three predetermined speeds. The NAS, which comes with 4GB of RAM, found itself an IP address from the local DHCP server, and from there we were able to configure it with the browser interface, starting with network settings such as static IP, DNS, routing and jumbo frames. You can also enable SNMP here and the SMTP server to use for sending email alerts.
Among the first things we tried to discover from the unit was whether any more tweaking was possible. We managed to SSH into it, but very few commands were available. An email to Infortrend elicited the information that it's running Open Solaris; this, and the lack of tweakability boosts the likelihood of its being secure and reliable in the real world.
Access, data protection and control
Simple and intuitive to use, the Pro 800's web interface permits access to all features, with the home page displaying a dashboard showing storage, network and CPU utilisation.
Key storage features include deduplication, thin provisioning (with iSCSI only) and compression. Using the web interface, you can configure the storage with RAID levels up to 6. You can set up multiple pools of storage, so you could have one set of drives organised for maximum reliability as RAID 1 and another as RAID 5, for example.
You can access the unit's storage over iSCSI, as well as CIFS, NFS, AFDP and FTP. When creating iSCSI target volumes, as with individual shares, you can enable or disable thin provisioning and deduplication on a per-share or per-target basis. Other protocols available include LDAP and NDMP.
You can set up users and groups, and share folders on a per-user or per-group basis. Fine-grained access control gives you control of share-level read, write, execute and modify permissions. You can also enable or disable network protocols at share level, which improves security. Quotas can be allocated to shares and you can enable antivirus scanning if you have an AV server running on the network.
Limits on the sizes of files (16EB), numbers of shared folders (1,024) and users and groups (10,000) are set by ZFS, and are unlikely to be reached by most users. ZFS offers a number of other advantages, including its general robustness and continuous disk-checking processes, which help to prevent bit rot.
Backup and maintenance
The EonNAS Pro 800 is big on backup, but more as a source than as a target. It offers snapshots, mirroring to another NAS system (either continuously or periodically), replication of all shares, home directories or particular folders using rsync protocols to an eSATA-attached drive, or a manual 'one-touch' copy to or from one or more USB-attached drives. All of these operations can be performed either manually or using a customisable schedule.
Maintenance tasks include snapshotting the system's configuration, updating firmware and viewing the downloadable system log.
In use the unit is fairly quiet at 56dB from one metre distance, and draws 43W when idle. We backed up 89GB of video files to the unit, which resulted in a noise increase to the second level, now 60dB, and a power draw of 94W. With deduplication enabled on this set of semi-random data, we got a useful decrease in disk space to 75.6GB.
One disappointment was that the NAS couldn't be set up as an rsync target, which would have completed its functionality in this department. One other niggle was that the NAS's eSATA port was one-way only: we couldn't access it as an attached eSATA drive from another computer, although this would admittedly have broken the system's security model.
Our overall impressions are that this unit is hard to fault. The user interface is easy to use, despite offering a rich set of features that are rare at this level. Performance was excellent, while from a noise perspective it will work in a medium to large office — but not on or close to a desk. And from a value for money perspective, no other product we've seen offers this level of functionality at this price. Highly recommended.