Get Smart: Cisco NSS 300 Series Smart Storage
In today’s post, I am going to veer slightly from my usual topics, and focus on a hardware review. While planning for the Cisco Live 2010 event in Las Vegas, I realized we were going to need a way to share large files between a number of staff around the venue. Due to the complexity of the onsite network, having a storage server installed and configured in the onsite datacenter was not an option due to timelines. We needed something small, reliable, and easy to setup. Thanks to the good folks in the Cisco Smart Storage group, I had the option to test out one of our own Cisco products.
About a week before I left for the show, the Cisco NSS 300 series smart storage device showed up at my door. Within a few minutes after unboxing, I had the unit powered and hooked up to my local gigabit network. The NSS 300 series comes in a 2, 4, or 6 drive configuration. My unit was a 2-drive model, with 2 x 500gb drives, running a Linux OS. Additional ports- 5 USB and 2 eSATA. Within two minutes, the device was online and I was able to log into the administration page. The first thing I noticed was the clean and simple layout of the admin page. The settings for each of the different functionalities are clearly laid out- users, protocols, backup, UPnP, etc. After familiarizing myself with the admin pages, I quickly created a few shares, and users. Once I tested the logins, it was time to re-pack it and ship it off to Las Vegas.
As anyone who works on events will tell you, portability is key. The unit itself is quite small, about the size of a dictionary. Once I unpacked it in our HQ, the unit was up and running in minutes. Most servers give off enough fan noise to warrant them being banished to a closet. This device however was placed right in the middle of a six-foot round table. Most of the staff did not even notice it was running.
The purpose of this storage server was to provide easy access to large files, to various staff members. Since our staff rooms were on the same network subnet, 5 different staff rooms in the convention center were able to access the drive with ease. The ports on the NSS 300 are gigabit, which enabled us to fully leverage the onsite Cisco powered network at Mandalay Bay. Since the drives are mirrored using RAID, the write speeds were very high. The unit also supports data encryption- if the drives are stolen, the data will be protected. During live events, there is no room for error; knowing that our data was fully backed up at all times gave me peace of mind to focus on other areas of the show.
Aside from basic file serving and sharing, the unit has a host of other features that can be valuable to both home and office users. As a backup server, the NSS supports USB one touch copy, Apple Time Machine, Rsync, as well as external storage devices. Looking to add this unit to a cluster? It supports VMware. From a media perspective, the unit can handle just about anything- DNLA 1.5, iTunes server, & even web based viewing. All this and smart power management as well, ensuring the server is only drawing power when needed.
After testing this product during a high profile event, I can say I was very impressed. The unit was incredibly easy to setup, and was able to handle everything that was thrown at it, often by many users at once. If you are looking for reliability, flexibility, and high-performance in a small package, the NSS 300 Series Smart Storage devices are highly recommended.
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