With a multitude of software options and strong support for VMware and Hyper-V, the QNAP NAS appliance can play many roles in a growing small business
QNAP's iSCSI-enabled NAS solution is a perfect match for the growing small office, especially one expanding beyond the internal storage of a VMware or Windows Hyper-V virtualization server. Of course, no sub-$1,000 box is going to be as fast as an enterprise SAN, but the QNAP is a snap to set up (even the iSCSI), and it's packed with software bells and whistles. With a long list of features, QNAP add-ons, and QPKG community extensions available, the QNAP Turbo NAS is truly a jack-of-all-trades.
I've been running three models in my lab, where I tested their performance across a range of file services tasks using the Intel NAS Performance Toolkit. All three models are built on a low-power x86 CPU and a common Linux operating system. The four-bay TS-419U is a 1U rack-mount system with a Marvell 1.2GHz CPU and 512MB of RAM, while the four-bay TS-459 Pro and six-bay TS-639 Pro are desktop cabinet systems with an Atom 1.66GHz CPU and 1GB of RAM. As the specs suggest, the TS-419U ran a step or two behind its two cousins.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Virtualizing servers in a small to midsize business reaps many rewards, and the virtualization is free. See "Test Center guide: Virtualization for the rest of us." ]
Essentials plus extras
Any self-respecting NAS appliance today fulfills basic functions such as Dynamic DNS, flexible disk configs (JBOD, RAID 0,1,5), streaming media support, WebDAV for drive mounting over HTTP/SSL, workstation backup, and FTP, and the QNAP does not disappoint. Plus, with SMB/CIFS Windows file sharing combined with Apple Time Machine, NFS, Web server, FTP server, and print server, the QNAP appliance eliminates the need for additional "services machines." For those needing offsite backup, the entire line seems to support Amazon S3 replication.
QNAP has a whole series of feature modules that you can turn on as the need arises, most notably a surveillance system that can harvest video from a wide range of IP webcams. This entry-level surveillance system (supporting up to eight cameras depending upon model) isn't going to replace the much costlier systems such as NetDVR or the Axis Camera Station, but it makes storage of heterogeneous camera video affordable for even the smallest organization. (QNAP also sells dedicated video surveillance appliances that can support upward of 40 cameras.)
Initial setup is handled through the supplied QNAP Finder application (Mac or Windows) or via the front panel for "PC-less configuration." The QNAP Finder allows you to find and configure your appliance even if it's getting its address via DHCP. In a nice touch, the discovery utility also allows you to do drive mapping.
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