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Seagate Business Storage 8-Bay Rack Appliance review

Firm debuts the world’s first 8-drive 1U rack appliance.

Price
£3,181
  • Easy deployment; High storage density; Good performance and value
  • Drives can get toasty; No USB 3 ports

Seagate has launched it first rack mount storage appliance as it aims to branch out from the consumer and small business NAS appliance market.

Designed for use within the competitive SMB sector, the Business Storage 8-Bay Rack Appliance crams eight hot-swap LFF drives into a 1U chassis.

This high density is acheived by fitting a micro-ATX motherboard at the back leaving room up front for two rows of four LFF SATA drives. Pull the two levers behind the rack mount ears forward and the drive bay cover pops up for easy removal. 

To fit one you flick back the carrier's locking button, drop it into a free bay, slide it towards the combined SATA/power connector and push the lock down. Our review unit came with eight 4TB Enterprise drives and we loaded them in a couple of minutes. 

The high storage density is achieved by placing the drives in two rows under the cover

Hardware

The motherboard supports Xeon E3 V2 CPUs but Seagate has opted for a dual-core 2.3GHz Celeron G1610T. This is teamed up with a 4GB stick of DDR3 in one of the four DIMM slots and up to 32GB is supported.

The four embedded SATA II and two SATA III ports provide six of the disk interfaces whilst the other two are handled by a dual-port SATA II card fitted in a riser.  The two Gigabit ports can be teamed together, three USB 2 ports are provided for external devices but no USB 3 ports are available.

Power redundancy is handled by dual 250W hot-plug PSUs and the three small internal cooling fans are also hot-swappable. Rack installation won't be a problem as the price includes a sliding rail kit and a cable management arm. 

Seagate has used a new NAS OS and web interface for the 8-Bay appliance

Deployment

Installation starts by pointing a web browser at the appliance and following a quick start wizard which loads the latest firmware. The appliance comes preconfigured with a single-drive redundant SimplyRAID array which allows different sized drives to be mixed in the same array. 

The lower capacity 8-Bay appliances come with four drives and four spare carriers so you can expand the SimplyRAID array with any drive of your choice. You can also delete this and choose SimplyRAID with dual redundancy or create standard mirrors, stripes, RAID-10, -5 or -6 arrays.

Ensure the appliance has plenty of air flow around it and nothing is placed directly on top of the chassis. During testing, the outermost drives ran between 44-46 degrees Celcius whereas the two rear inner drives, where cooling is least effective, went as high as 51 degrees Celcius and the lid was hot to the touch.

The wide choice of RAID arrays includes Seagate's SimplyRAID which supports drives of different makes and sizes

Features and backup

Seagate's tidy web interface opens with a status overview of all services. Shares are simple to create and access can be controlled with local user and group lists or by joining a Windows domain.

The appliance supports SMB, NFS, AFP and FTP/SFTP access and you can enable each service on specific network ports. The obligatory multimedia toys comprise an iTunes server and support for media streaming to UPnP/DLNA devices.

No workstation backup software is included but the appliance can act as a repository for third party backup products. It also supports Time Machine and can replicate to other Rync compatible appliances.

The appliance ties in with LaCie's Wuala hosted cloud backup service. After installing the local Wuala app, you can link it with shares on the appliance and run scheduled backups or opt for continuous syncing.

The Wuala app maps its offsite drive to a local letter so you can restore files from its user interface or via drag and drop. We found it worked fine but you'll need more than the free 5GB with a 100GB Business Pack for 25 users costing around 330 per year.

The appliance can be remotely accessed and backed up to the cloud using the optional Kuala hosted service

Performance and remote apps

The Celeron CPU acquitted itself well in our real world tests with drag and drop copies of a 2.52GB video clip over Gigabit delivering read and write speeds of 105MB/sec and 101MB/sec. FTP speeds using the FileZilla utility were in the same ball park and copying our 22.4GB folder with 10,500 small files returned a respectable 72MB/sec.

The 8-Bay supports IP SANs where you simply choose a size for your iSCSI target and apply CHAP authentication if required. Thin provisioning and LUN backup aren't available but performance is tops with Iometer reporting a fast 112MB/sec raw read throughout for a 1TB target.

Seagate's Tappin service allows shares to be accessed remotely over the Internet via a web browser or apps for Android and iOS. From the web browser portal, you can view shares, create new folders and upload or download files.

The iPad app provides remote access to shares and the media server. Thi app is basic compared to the ones provided by Synology and Qnap, which also provide status details on appliance utilisation, disk health and storage usage.

Conclusion

The Business Storage 8-Bay delivers a high storage density for minimal rack real estate and the 32TB model is good value. Compared with Qnap and Synology, general features are limited but it's no slouch in the performance stakes.

Verdict

The Business Storage 8-Bay squeezes a lot of storage in a small amount of rack space. It’s good value and performs well although features are basic and you need to keep an eye on the temperature.

Chassis: 1U rack
Motherboard: Asus P8B-M
CPU: 2.3GHz Celeron G1610T
Memory: 4GB DDR3 (max 32GB)
Storage: 8 x 4TB Seagate Constellation ES.3 SATA hot-swap drives
Array Support: RAID0, 1, 5, 6, 10, SimplyRAID, hot spare
Network: 2 x Gigabit
Ports: 3 x USB2, VGA, 2 x PS/2
Power: 2 x 250W hot-plug PSUs
Management: Web browser
Software: Seagate Network Assistant
Other: Rack rails and cable management arm included
Warranty: 3yr limited

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