The IOMEGA IX4 comes in 2 form factors, rack mount and desktop. The model I was given to test has 4 x 750GB SATAII drives giving a RAW capacity of 3TB and a useable capacity of 2TB (this can vary depending on how the user chooses to configure the disks. Its a compact and relatively discreet box which makes little noise.
The IX4 uses standard RJ45 1 Gigabit Ethernet for client connectivity and has 4 x USB ports which can be used for adding addition external storage (USB Flash or USB Direct attached external drives). Conveniently USB storage connected to the IX4 can be shared out to the network also.
The IX4 can make use of a number of protocols. In the commercial space for things such as file and print services the IX4 offers CIF/SMB and NFS protocols which are the most commonly used protocols within businesses today. The IX4 can also make use of the FTP protocol for serving file data straight out to the internet.
I use the IX4 at home for media streaming to Xbox/PS3 and my PC, it’s pretty reliable. I have also activated the online functionality so you can access the console from any browser administer the box as you would locally. The advantage of this is that you can search the NAS box from anywhere and download your content.
As well as the fore mentioned features it also has the ability to connect directly to IP-CCTV cameras and livestream/record data (there is also a camera viewer in the console where you can view the stream). The IX4 can also support the Apple Bonjour protocol which is a service discovery protocol; effectively this means that the device can broadcast itself to Mac machines on the LAN and Mac machines will automatically configure visibility of the supported device.
The user accesses the Storcenter Console using HTTP via their standard web browser.
User Management and security
User management is fairly straight forward. The administrator can either manually set up user accounts and give access rights and privileges to specific user accounts manual. The box however, does also have Active directory integration.
The IX4 I was looking at contains 4 x 750GB 7200RPM SATA drives. These drives can be carved up in a 3 ways; either using it as a JBOD to offer maximum capacity, RAID 5 to offer reasonable capacity with parity protection or RAID 10 mirroring to offer maximum protection against drive failure (high price tag per GB here). The drives are also hot swappable which is handy for replacing failed drives.
The data transfer rating is 300MBps, this would be using the optimal disk configuration for performance (not necessarily optimal for performance). The box is VMWare certified, but bearing in mind that SATA drives are not performance drives, I would not recommend using the box as VMWare storage for any virtual machines that have real performance requirements. The disk load limit of 4 disks in a RAID 5 configuration would be no more than 270 IOPS.
The Desktop IX4 allows for RAID protection which will protect against single drive failure and also has support for UPS which can be usedin the event of power outages. It does not have redundant storage controllers, fans, etc.
The IX4-200 is a tidy little box for the small office, very easy to use and only really offers the granularity of management required by its target audience (being the small business). Ideal use cases would be as a backup target, File serving device or possible archive target. I would not consider this to be a device which would sit in production within an environment of more than 50 active users. As far as VMWare integration goes, yes you can provision storage to ESX using NFS (and iSCSI on later models) which is great, but I would not recommend using the device for any data that is highly transactional (if using things such as SQL and Exchange on VMWare.. I’d recommend it only for environments with a very low amount of concurrent users.). All IOMEGA boxes come with a number of software products, one being EMC retrospect for backup.
The RAID support is a nice feature, rather than it being just a JBOD box and the ability to add external storage could be useful. Its worth mentioning that the IX4 does have a number of disk options supporting Larger SATA drives.
I could see this sitting very well in small consultancy business or small remote office environment.
The IX4-200d; a subsequent release of the IX4 is a much more compelling box which supports iSCSI and NAS to NAS replication, along with energy saving features such as drive spin down. It also includes an additional front end Ethernet port. Each of these boxes how a rack mount version which will most likely be more popular in the business world and generally as you look through the larger models you will see some additional network management features (such as VLAN support, MPIO Support, DFS Support) and some additional RAID options maybe. But Generally as you go up in the range the common differentiating factors on subsequently larger models is simply more front end connectivity (and more flexible management of) and more capacity support. Also you will find the larger rack mounts offer better redundancy by way of redundant fans, PSU’s.
It does appear that there is a lot of development happening on the IX range and lots of nice new features and integration points on the roadmap, although a fair chunk of those new features do seem to be geared to the consumer not the corporate.