|EonNAS 1100 NAS Network Storage Server|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Network|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Wednesday, 05 December 2012|
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Closer Look: EonNAS 1100 NAS Server
The bottom line with any high performance storage solution is that the number of drive spindles in play is often more important than almost any other factor, assuming that everything else is based on reasonably modern technology. When you combine the higher level of performance with the greater flexibility for online RAID capacity expansion & online RAID level migration, the additional cost of the extra drive bays always looks like a bargain instead of conspicuous consumption. This is the reason more and more people are opting for NAS systems with at least four bays, even though they may not need all that capacity now. What initially looks like overkill in a NAS system might just be the very thing that saves the day some years down the road.
We've all got data that we can't live without, the question is, how long do you want to be without it? Very few people or businesses are going to want to live without their important information for any length of time, and a RAID configuration that includes some redundancy is undoubtedly called for. With multiple SATA drives installed, you can have: RAID 0 (Disk Striping), RAID 1 (Disk Mirroring), RAID 5 (Block-level striping with distributed parity), RAID 6 (Block-level striping with redundant distributed parity), and RAID 10 (Striped array whose segments are RAID 1 arrays). The most popular choice is usually RAID 5 because it offers the highest capacity with built-in redundancy. RAID 6 offers additional redundancy, allowing for continued operation even with two simultaneous drive failures. RAID 6 is very popular for larger NAS units and mission-critical data stores, because if one individual drive fails in a RAID 5 implementation, the array instantly starts operating as a RAID 0 configuration, which has NO redundancy. It stays in that vulnerable state until the array is rebuilt, which is a slow process that generally taxes the system and the remaining drives to the max, and can take several hours to complete.
The EonNAS 1100 is a relatively small unit, arranged in a 19" rack mount format and fitting in a single, 1U rack space. This is clearly not going to be a useful format for a large variety of home settings, but business users will have no problem integrating it into their systems. The only available model is a diskless unit, which allows the end user to select the most some sensible drive combination that's compatible with their storage needs. The size and weight are consistent with similar equipment in a data center: 43mm (H) x 439mm (W) x 511mm (D), and 7 kg (15 lb) without drives installed. Each HDD you install will add about 1-1/2 pounds, depending on your choice of drive. Many users will be looking at 2TB and 3TB drives for a unit like this, and they're heavier than most. There are no handles on the unit, but there are optional rail kits available for easy and secure mounting in a standard 19" rack.
All of the front panel controls and drive bays are accessible from the front of the unit; there is no access door or other shield to contend with. In a device as small as this, there really isn't room for a display on the front, just a few push buttons and indicator lights. The four drive bays span the entire width of the unit, and take up at least two thirds of the height, as well. On the far left side of the front panel are the ON/OFF button, a warning indicator, and then two LEDs for showing the status of the GbE network connections. They glow steady during idle conditions, and blink when data is being transmitted through the ports. There are ventilation holes in both the drive trays and across a good portion of the upper front panel. There are no ventilation holes on the sides, top, or bottom of the EonNAS 1100 chassis. All the cooling air enters at the front of the unit and is exhausted out the rear by three 40mm fans - one in the PSU and two controlled by the NAS. There are no filters on any of the air intakes, presumably because the air in most data centers is cleaner than in your home. No cat hair, for one thing, but I have seen some dust bunnies.....
With the unit safely turned off, it's OK to remove one or more drives and they all slide out the front like this. Each tray holds one individual drive in the EonNAS 1100, and the tray is a common part across the product line. Inserting and removing the drive trays was smooth and positive, both with HDDs mounted in the trays and without. There are individual locking devices on each of the latches, and no keys are required to operate them, but you will need a small screwdriver or a similar tool. My advice is to use the locks and think twice before unlatching any drive bay. Trust me when I say that you do not want to start accidentally pulling drives out. The drive bays are not marked on the front bezel, the individual drive trays are not marked, and you can mix and match them all you want, until you build a drive array and then you had better remember which one goes where. I recommend making your own labels or marking the trays with a Sharpie as soon as you start installing drives into the unit; if you mix them up the NAS might not recognize the array, and you could end up destroying data. In the Hardware manual, Infortrend indicates that the far left hand bay is considered Drive Slot 1. There is an exception to this, and Infortrend calls it "Disk Roaming". If you physically migrate your data from one NAS system to another, you don't have to retain the existing order of the drives in the new chassis. I don't know if this works when you're just dealing with the original chassis. The latches acted like a locking device and a lever; once the trays reached the end of their travel, swinging the latch levers the tray firmly into place. It's a sturdy, well designed system for getting the drives in and out. Not that you want to take them out very often, maybe just for spring cleaning once a year!
Around the back of the EonNAS 1100, you can see all of the hardwired I/O points. Starting at the far left is a video connectors for VGA. This is not used during normal operation, only in factory maintenance mode, which is not accessible by the user. Directly to the right is one of the 40mm smart fans, followed by one of the captive screws for keeping the top panel locked in place. Next up are a pair of 1000BASE-T Ethernet jacks, four USB 2.0 jacks, and a single eSATA connector. Further to the right are another 40mm fan opening, and then the integrated 250W power supply, with its own fan and IEC receptacle. There is no separate power switch on the rear panel, only the ON/OFF button on the front. Since this is strictly a business device, there's no spot for a Kensington lock hole. In order to keep things cool when needed and quiet the rest of the time, the fan speed is modulated. I haven't paid much attention to fan noise in most of the smaller NAS models I've reviewed, as it was never really noticeable during my daily use. The EonNAS 1100 was like the other rackmount devices I've tested. None were as quiet as the NAS units intended for domestic use, and the fan noise stood out against the background noise of my study, above the noise of two PCs operating in the same room. The main problem is that the form factor only allows very small (40mm) fans to be used, and small fans that can move a decent amount of air are always going to be noisier than a larger fan with the same CFM rating.
The far right side of the front panel has an external USB 2.0 jack and a dedicated push button control for initiating a quick backup sequence. There's a small bi-color LED in the center of the button that provides status updates during one-touch backup activity. Green is good, amber is bad. Details for this function are configured in the device software. The backup operation can work either way, backing up from the USB device to the NAS, or from the NAS to the USB device. This image also shows the two LED indicators that are present on each of the four drive trays. They're actually acrylic light pipes that snake their way back to LEDs on the backplane PC board. The lower LED is steady green when there's a working drive in the bay; it turns red if there's a problem with the drive. The upper LED blinks blue when there is drive activity occurring in that bay.
Now that we've had a thorough tour of the exterior, let's do a complete tear-down and see what the insides look like. The next section covers Insider Details.