Shortcut to Storage

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Iomega's latest NAS unit, the StorCenter ix2, brings Gigabit Ethernet speed and 2TB of storage to small networks relatively cheaply.

It's obvious that Iomega had to cut a few corners to be able to offer 2TB for just $479.99.

Don't expect to find any fancy LCD displays, blinking LEDs or hot-swappable drives here; all you are going to get is a small blackish-grey box with a Gigabit Ethernet port and two USB ports on the back.

To keep size down and reduce heat generated, the StorCenter uses an external power brick. Inside the unit, you'll find a pair of hard drives and just enough electronics to run a basic Linux operating system called "Lifeline," which was developed by EMC, the current owner of Iomega.

Lifeline supports UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and DLNA for talking to assorted other devices on the network, and Lifeline offers RSA security. No surprise there; EMC also owns RSA. Users can further "expand" the StorCenter thanks to the integrated USB ports. Lifeline supports many USB devices, most notably a security camera from Axis Communications that when plugged in can turn the unit into a video server. Other supported devices include USB storage devices, USB-based Bluetooth adapters and Wi-Fi adapters.

Although the StorCenter tries to be the jack-of-all-trades in the NAS market, it really is only the master of one, and that is backup. With Gigabit Ethernet and a bundled copy of EMC's Retrospect software, the StorCenter proves to be well suited for performing backup duty for desktop PCs and small business servers.

Retrospect is one of the simplest backup utilities to use and lends itself well to small business environments. The combination of the StorCenter ix2 unit and Retrospect removes all excuses when it comes to backing up.

Interestingly, iomega plans to add a new backup capability to the ix2, creating what amounts to a managed service element. The device is designed to support a future ability, which will allow it to replicate all of its data with another ix2 over the Internet. In other words, a solution provider could install one unit in a customer's office and then another unit in the customer's home office and set those units up to synchronize over the Internet. Pretty much an instant way to bring off-site backup capability to any business—just don't expect to replicate 2GB of data over the Internet on the first day. Hopefully, iomega will launch this new feature in the near future. 

For solution providers, the StorCenter ix2 promises a quick and easy way to bring backup and extended storage to a small business. The unit offers some integration opportunities that allow solution providers to upsell other devices and services, such as video security systems and additional USB storage devices.

While the StorCenter ix2 may fall a little short when compared with NAS units from competitors such as Buffalo Technology and Netgear, it covers the basics quite well and at a price that is hard to ignore.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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