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Caption by: Alan Stevens
The StorCenter Pro NAS 450r from Iomega (now part of the EMC group) is effectively a high-end Windows server with a Xeon dual-core processor and 1GB of ECC-protected DDR2 memory. You also get dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with teaming and load-balancing support plus a pair of USB 2.0 ports and an integrated Ultra320 SCSI interface, which can be used for both external storage expansion and backup.
A 1U rack-mount chassis is used to house all of this with, at the front, four hot-swap bays for the storage, managed by a PCIe RAID controller. Two models are available: the 1TB review system with four 250GB Hitachi Deskstar SATA II disks (7,200rpm), reviewed here, which costs £2,035 (ex. VAT), and a 2TB model fitted with 500GB disks, which costs another £415.
The operating system is Windows Storage Server 2003 R2 which, as the name implies, is an implementation of Windows Server optimised for use on storage appliances. You can attach a monitor, keyboard and mouse and manage the appliance locally, although most buyers will opt to do this via Windows Remote Desktop.
The interface here isn't quite as easy as the web GUIs more commonly found on NAS appliances, but you do get a wizard to help with the basic configuration. You're then passed to an Iomega-branded management snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console (MMC), although you can also get to the Windows desktop and most of the other tools provided as part of Windows Server.
A small amount of storage space is reserved for mirrored copies of the OS, leaving — on the 1TB model — around 710GB for data. A RAID 5 configuration is supplied by default, with RAID 0/1 available if you're prepared to get down and dirty with the software. The usual Windows Server tools can be used to create shares and manage access with (as you'd expect) support for Active Directory as standard.
Sharing files with Windows users can also be taken as read but, in addition, the server comes with Services for Macintosh and Services for Unix for cross-platform sharing. Printer sharing is also supported, and you can take snapshots using the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), encrypt the file system and hook the appliance into Windows DFS (Distributed File System). There's even an iSCSI initiator (Nimbus) to enable the Iomega appliance to be hooked up to an iSCSI SAN.
A host of add-on applications further extends the available functionality, including CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup with disaster recovery included in the licence and a pre-formatted recovery CD. CA eTrust AntiVirus is, similarly, preinstalled and ready to run; finally, there's a five-user copy of EMC Retrospect Express to take backups of client desktops and notebooks.
Apart from its noisy fans, we really liked the Iomega 450r which, given its impressive specification, scored heavily in terms of performance. You also get a lot of extra software as part of the deal. However it's expensive for just 1TB of storage and a lot harder to manage than competing products unless you're already familiar with Windows Server.
Caption by: Alan Stevens