Review: Iomega StorCenter PX -- Cloud Storage For SMB

Since EMC acquired Iomega in 2008, the company has injected the junior company's products with a steady stream of high-end features. The latest example is Iomega's StorCenter PX Series, a brand new line of desktop and rackmount network storage devices with capabilities akin to EMC's high-end enterprise storage systems.

Iomega StorCenter px-6 300d

The company sent the CRN Test Center a Iomega StorCenter px-6 300d, which out of the box was ready to serve in about two minutes. It came populated with 8TB of Hitachi SATA III 6-Gbps storage and pre-initialized with double parity (RAID 6) protection. Time-strapped resellers and IT departments might enjoy the time savings of pre-initialization, which does not add to the cost of the array.

The Iomega PX Series device can simultaneously perform as block-level SAN and a file-level NAS. Administrators can create iSCSI storage pools for use as direct server or client storage on one network while dedicating a the second Gbit Ethernet port to file sharing over all major protocols, including CIFS, SMB, AFP, NFS and FTP. Alternatively, the two ports can be trunked to enhance performance or configured as redundant for improved availability.

The unit supports RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 5+1 and 6 SSDs and drive-less configuration. Support for Apple Time Machine is enabled by default, and worked out of the box. There's also support for HTTP/S, WebDAV and others.

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Set up was a breeze. After booting up, the unit gained an IP address from our DHCP server and posted it on its display panel. That allowed testers to quickly find the device using Iomega's Storage Manager utility, which immediately prompts for the IP address of a device to configure. Versions are included for Mac OS X and Windows.

Once the initialized device was discovered, the utility linked us to a Web browser, were all of the unit's settings can be administered. Here, Iomega presents a simple and familiar two-paned interface with device categories along the left and settings icons in the larger right-hand pane. Forgot where that one seldom-used management feature is? There's also a search bar, which delivered useful results every time we tried it.

In addition to Apple's Time Machine, backup options include integration with Amazon S3 and Mozy Backup cloud services, and a copy job scripting interface with automated scheduling that also can be kicked off by pressing the "QuikTransfer" button on the front of the unit.

Next: Get Onto My Personal Cloud

Then there's Iomega's Personal Cloud feature, which we see as a major advance in simplified, cross-platform file sharing.

In just a few minutes, any or all folders on the PX Series box can be shared with machines running Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. The two-part process involves a few clicks of the admin tool to create a shared folder, and a few more to invite people to share it. Invitees receive an e-mail with a security code and link to download the Storage Manager software for their platform.

On Windows, the client automatically maps drive letters in Windows Explorer to all the folders you've shared (the default is six). A bit sloppy, perhaps, but we admire Iomega's pragmatic approach over Windows File Sharing, which can be a complicated and circular maze of settings, windows and control panels. On Mac OS X, the folders are mounted in the Finder. We didn't test the Linux client.

Iomega's latest line is certified for VMware vSphere 4.0 and Citrix XenServer, as well as Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008. It also supports Active Directory, can join multiple domains and can communicate with UPSes for automatic shutdown.

From a physical perspective, the unit measures about 10 x 10 x 7 inches and gets power from a DC converter brick and small canon connector and C5 ("Mickey Mouse") AC cord. We would have preferred an integrated power supply and C13 cord. A non-locking door swings open to expose six drive bays, each of which can accept 3.5- or 2.5-inch drives in the included locking carriers. It supports a mixture of drive types including SSDs.

List pricing for the StorCenter PX-6 300d ranges from $1,199 with no drives to $3,999 fully populated with 18TB. This is a CRN Test Center recommended product.