It's been a while since I last had opportunity to take on a Windows Server-based NAS server, such as the Acer Aspire EasyStore or HP's MediaSmart series. And now when Microsoft fanboys are starting to worry that the company has abandoned the NAS server market, LaCie has announced its first network storage server that's based on an NAS-specific operating system (OS) from the software giant, the 5big Storage Server.
The new NAS server is powered by Microsoft's Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Standard operating system, which was introduced in October 2010 and is based on Windows Server 2008 R2, while offering similar features to its NAS-specific Windows Home Server OS. Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 is not to be confused with the version 2 release of Windows Home Server, code-named Vail, which is still under development.
If all these OS names give you a headache, note that that's not an intended feature of a Windows Server-based NAS server. In a nutshell, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 is superior to the current version of Windows Home Server in that it offers support for RAID configurations and iSCSI, which allows a portion of the network storage to be used by a computer as if it were a local drive. And these are two features that you'll find available in the new LaCie 5big Storage Server.
Other than that, according to LaCie the server offers the following additional features:
Data deduplication: Utilizing Microsoft's Single Instance Storage (SIS), the 5big Storage Server can provide file-level deduplication, so duplicate files will only be stored once.
Off-site replication and collaboration: The 5big Storage Server incorporates Microsoft's Distributed File System Replication (DFS-R) technology, allowing corporate administrators to complete off-site backups of their critical data. LaCie claims that NAS-to-NAS replication performance on the 5big Storage Server goes up to 112MBps. The DFS-R technology can also be used as a simple tool for off-site backups.
Mac compatibility: The 5big Storage Server supports both PC and Mac platforms and offers full support for Time Machine. LaCie claims that thanks to fast AFP performance the 5big Storage Server can complete a 320GB Time Machine backup in about 2 hours.
As for hardware, the 5big Storage Server features a 64-bit dual-core hyper-threading 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor and a dual Gigabit Ethernet port for link aggregation. The server has five drive bays, each of which can handle a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive of up to 2TB, for a maximum total capacity of 10TB. It has three USB ports and one eSATA port for connecting additional storage to extend its internal storage or for local backup purposes.
The server is available now in 1TB, 5TB, and 10TB capacities that are expected to cost $1,199, $1,599, and $1,999, respectively.
While the new server will make Microsoft fans rejoice, those who are serious about getting work done without having to remember OSes' names should also check out the five-bay Synology DS1511+. Making up for the fact that it runs Linux, the Synology is more affordable, has a lot more features, offers very fast performance, and also supports hard drives that are larger than 2TB.