The NAS market segment has been very prolific lately. So much so that sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate them, since they all share a very similar functional scope. Given the maturity of these products, they all have in common complete network management functions and comprehensive Raid options. On a closer look, however, some manufacturers are ahead of their own mar-ket. This is what we have found out while eva-luating Netgear’s ReadyNAS 314 NAS, an inno-vative model in many aspects. It is sold alone or preconfigured in 4-, 8 and 12TB capacities.
EASY TO START
Designed for workgroups and businesses up to 50 users, the ReadyNAS 314 has a compact hou-sing with 4 bays and an LCD screen. Hosted by the manufacturer’s own ReadyNAS OS 6.2.2 operating system, this model has a built-in as-sistant that guides you at start-up time on ope-rating parameters, making it ready to use in minutes. What is striking is its full HTML in-terface, particularly fluid and intuitive. Ergo-nomics are thoroughly thought out in terms of navigation, mouseover help ballons and online documentation, so that one is never lost. The main menu bar features the major sections: System, Sharing, iScsi, accounts, network; Ap-plications, Cloud and Backup. There is even a real-time antivirus available, that needs to be activated manually however.
DATA PROTECTION ABOVE ALL
Another original feature of this model, rela-ted to data security, is the BTRFS file manage-ment system, much more advanced than the ext3 or ext4 used by the vast majority of com-peting models. BTRFS (for B-Tree File System) has multiple integrated checksum of data and metadata mechanisms to ensure their integri-ty. Added to this is the possibility of activating unlimited snapshots. A replication mechanism locally or on a remote NAS (enough to establish a mini disaster recovery system) allows pro-gramming of regular backups. By default the initial backup is complete, the following being incremental, but you can opt for a full backup every time or every 1, 2, 3 or 4 weeks.
The scalability of the NAS is guaranteed by X-RAID2, a system that automatically takes into account the addition of disks that are confi-gured transparently without hassle or loss of data. All you need is to swap out a disk with a larger one and the NAS takes care of the auto repartitioning and synchronization of the disks. If you need more storage space an eSATA port allows you to connect a 5-bay expansion enclosure (EDA500), which extends the total capacity up to 54 TB when using 6 TB disks. Scalability is also applicable on the software side. The ReadyNAS 314 may be functionally extended through a catalog of about 75 appli-cations (php environments, bittorrent clients, Drupal and Joomla content management sys-tems, video surveillance, MySQL, etc.), direct-ly installable from the interface.
MANY CLOUD FUNCTIONS
Netgear provides its users several cloud ser-vices, which can be activated from the NAS and accessed from the manufacturer’s web portal. ReadyNAS Remote allows accessing the NAS content from any location and device via a secure VPN link. Mobile applications for Android and iOS also allow you to access the contents of the NAS. ReadyCLOUD adds automatic synchronization of files from a PC or Mac and the possibility of sharing a file or a folder with a third party with a simple email link. Finally, ReadyNAS Replicate is an advanced backup and data synchronization mechanism, with extended settings for speed, capacity and backup mode (file or block).
ISCSI AND PERFORMANCE
The iScsi volume creation function is very com-plete, and offers several interesting options: instant activation (every hour, day or week), an anti-bitrot copy-on-write mechanism, and even data compression (if the volume is decla-red dynamic). The result is immediately avai-lable for iSCSI LUN virtualization platforms like VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V. Performance is among the best we have mea-sured with a 111 MB / second throughput (on a theoretical maximum of 120 over a Gigabit Ethernet link). The cooling of the NAS is done by a large fan, helping to bring down the ope-rating noise to an acceptable level. The gua-rantee of the ReadyNAS 314 is five years on the discs and the unit with D+1 on site replace-ment and lifetime technical support.
With its robust BTRFS file management sys-tem, fluid and ergonomic HTML 5 interface, many cloud features and built-in replication functions and scalability path, this model is in many key aspects ahead of its competitors. The many innovative features of the Ready-NAS 314 make this model a true innovator that shows what a next generation NAS should be… except that it is available today. This is a secure and scalable investment for companies seeking to build a NAS backup infrastructure.
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