|EonNAS 850X NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 14 February 2013|
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EonNAS 850X NAS Server Features
As the volume of personal and business data continue to rise exponentially, the systems we use to store and manage it have become more complex. I started my long relationship with computers when program storage meant a shoebox full of punch cards. Now, a bare-bones PC starts off with almost a million files on it BEFORE you add your own data. I'm not going to tell you that computing is going to get any simpler, that's an outright lie, but I can say that the tools we use to manage them are going to make it easier. We'll look at the newest and most unique features first, and then cover some of the more common ones.
ZFS File System
Data Rot! Ever hear that term? No? I would say, "Consider yourself lucky", but the truth is most of us have experienced it in one form or another. Every time one of your old floppy drives gave up the ghost and you lost part of a file, you experienced it. The trouble is, we all thought the problem went away when we got rid of "soft" media like tape, and it's circular cousin, the floppy disk. All digital storage technologies: CD, DVD, Blu-ray, HDD, SSD, NAND - they're all susceptible to data rot, or bit rot, as it's sometimes called. Fortunately, the people who create, deploy, and maintain large data centers have been aware of this issue for a long time, and have devised ways of dealing with it. Now, for the first time, those techniques are being made available to the general consumer, with some innovative new products from Infortrend. The key to maintaining a consistently high level of data integrity is found in the ZFS file system employed in all three models in the EonNAS Pro series. ZFS features an extensive hierarchical checksum strategy, which eliminates what is often called "silent" data corruption with self-healing storage algorithms. Operating way down at the file system level, ZFS attacks data rot where it starts, at the bit, byte, and block level.
The EonNAS Pro series has another significant feature inherited from the big iron storage solutions - Deduplication. Infortrend has implemented both file-level and block-level deduplication in these new NAS models, which has the potential to reduce storage requirements by up to 70% with typical SOHO or SMB data. That means you can possibly store 10TB of data on 3TB of disk space, without using bit-level file compression techniques. It all depends on how much of your data is repetitive, but if you think about email for instance, you can easily imagine the tremendous amount of duplication that's present in most organization's email traffic. The same thing happens when you want to maintain sequential backup files, let's say the last 10 days' worth. This is a common way of mitigating against data loss that isn't always immediately obvious. With multiple, full daily backups, you have the ability to unwind your data stream back to the exact day when the loss took place, rather than having to choose between yesterday's and last week's version of data. With deduplication, ten days of daily backups need only consume a little more than a single snapshot.
Deduplication is set up on each of the Share folders, individually. You don't have to apply it to the entire RAID Volume, or "Pool". During testing, I ended up configuring all of the shares with deduplication enabled, just so I could see the maximum possible benefit, in terms of space reduction. I copied the same set of RAR-compressed data into multiple folders, and was able to achieve a deduplication ratio of 95%, which is on the extreme high end of what is achievable. EonNAS claims that space reduction gains of up to 90% are possible with backup applications, 70% is the high end for virtualized environments, and 40% is realistic for storing common office applications, like documents, spreadsheets, and databases. Email is another animal, and gains there will probably be at least 70%. It all depends on how much block and file duplication is hiding inside your data. The use of block comparison in addition to file comparisons will increase opportunities for deduplication beyond what you might initially guess.
The deduplication process works as new data is written to the NAS. It is done "in-line" so to speak, and is definitely not done on a batch basis. If you have data in a share folder already, and then enable the deduplication capability, the existing data will be unaffected. However, any new data added to the share will be compared to ALL the existing data in that share as it is being written. This is quite different from how most file compression schemes are implemented, so be aware that once data is written to the share, it cannot be reduced in size by the deduplication function. Depending on the type of data you need to store, data compression may give you better reductions in storage space, but the trend for business operations has been towards deduplication lately, because of the massive amounts of duplicate data that are generally found in common business systems, like email servers.
Snapshot techniques work similar to drive cloning, except it allows for differential copies to be made. This greatly reduces the amount of disk space required, yet it allows the user to restore full volumes, folders, or files. If you're familiar with how Microsoft creates Restore Points in Windows, it's pretty much the same. The difference is, with the EonNAS 850X, you control how and when the snapshots are created. Snapshots are one of the few ways to protect against human error or rogue employees who try to delete critical business data.
Remote replication is available via the rsync protocol. This common protocol allows you to replicate your data on a folder-by-folder basis to another location. You options with the EonNAS Pro 850X are: 1) within the same NAS, 2) to another EonNAS system, 3) to another network device that supports rsync. Data is transferred in a compressed format, to speed network transmissions, and most businesses will want to take advantage of the 128-bit encryption that's available on the EonNAS series. This option works well when the business is comfortable with the possibility of losing a finite time of data, defined by a time period, say 2 hours, or 4 hours. The term Remote in the title refers to the fact that most businesses will use this technique to create physically remote copies of their data, to be used in typical Disaster Recovery scenarios, such as a power outage or fire in their main data center. This type of replication scheme is referred to as an Asynchronous protocol, since it only synchs at certain times, and doesn't stay continually synchronized.
Stepping up a notch in the Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity hierarchy, the EonNAS Pro series supports real-time data replication between two EonNAS systems. The term Mirror is appropriate, as the data on each system is always a mirror image of the other. This is the highest level of data protection you can get, and the level of synchronization is only constrained by the bandwidth of your network.
Sometimes a data backup is only the starting point, and sometimes it's the endpoint. Either way, you need a secure and efficient application to generate the backup files. The EonNAS 850X series ships with eight (8) licenses for FarStone TotalRecovery Pro backup software, and a copy of the application is included on the product CD in the shipping box. The EonNAS Pro series is also compatible with a wide range of other third party backup applications. The Apple Time Machine is also supported, as a hardware/software hybrid alternative. The EonNAS device itself can also do simple backups to eSATA or USB drives attached to its own ports.
Now that we've loooked at the most significant features of the EonNAS Pro 850X, let's look at the Hardware and Software specifications that provide the power and performance to make those features run.