The Netgear ReadyNAS series of network attached storage units serve as a prime example of how the industry has changed over the years. They were originally a product of Infrant Technologies, a veteran of mainframe disk subsystems that poured decades of serious storage experience into the small drive system for SMBs. Nearly four years into Infrant's acquisition by Netgear in May 2007, the ReadyNAS line now stretches from SOHO to enterprise NAS.
Although designed for the small to midsize enterprise, the ReadyNAS line remains true to its roots and its early success with vertical market integrators who wanted a platform that was both reliable and gave them wiggle room to customize. Instead of taking the high-level language route to extensibility (as competitor QNAP does, through support for Python add-ons), ReadyNAS has the ability to cross-compile the amazing collection of Linux applications to extend its capabilities. A look through Netgear's community forum reveals a dizzying array of developers who've embraced the ReadyNAS platform to offer specialized solutions and add-ons, such as continuous data protection over lossy WANs, streaming applications, SSH, rsync, and many others. I've even heard rumors of Asterisk being ported to this platform.
Little big NAS
The ReadyNAS 3200 caught me by surprise when it arrived on its own shipping mini-pallet and was plastered with icons indicating a two-person lift. The massive 3RU, 12-drive chassis with optional redundant power, optional third and fourth GbE interfaces, X-RAID2 multidrive parity, and VMware support show that Netgear is dipping its toes into the enterprise market. Providing 24TB of storage for less than $10,000, this is definitely a solution to keep an eye on when planning your next storage upgrade. I should also mention that -- unlike the name-brand enterprise vendors -- Netgear doesn't require you to purchase insanely expensive drive trays. Just pop out an empty and add a drive of your choice. You'll even find a hardware compatibility forum area where users discuss which drives have been working well for them.
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