Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Definitive Guide to the ReadyNAS NVX - Netgear Launches the ReadyNAS NVX


Since its introduction 3 years ago, the ReadyNAS NV and the follow-on NV+ have been the de facto choice of professionals, whether at the office or at home. They consistently garnered the highest ratings, and PC World even ranked the NV+ #8 in its “100 Best Products of 2007 Awards”. In a world where a product life cycle is measured in months, it’s very rare to find a design that lasts three years as the ReadyNAS NV product line has.

With that, the ReadyNAS team is proud to present the latest in our NV line — the ReadyNAS NVX, the fastest and most capable 4-bay desktop NAS in the world.

Identical in size to the NV+, the ReadyNAS NVX now sports a charcoal black exterior. And of course, it maintains the same chrome curved handle in the back, so you can easily move it between home and office if the need arises. In fact, much of the features that users have grown to love about the NV+ remains — the informative LCD in the front, the 4 hot-swappable disk trays behind the hidden mesh door, the backup button with a USB port at the top, and the two USB ports in the back.

What has changed is the brand-spanking new 1 GHz Intel CPU that replaces the NETGEAR IT3107 NSP that’s been the mainstay of the NV+. Add to that the 1 GB of fast SO-DIMM, and you have a system capable of hitting 85 MB/sec, more than what your typical PC or Mac can do locally, and twice as fast as the NV+.

The importance of protected storage

With everything now being stored digitally, a simple disk failure can be catastrophic, especially with the large capacity disks that are certainly the norm these days. And it really is not a matter of if but when you will have a massive data loss. Your whole family history captured on photos and videos will be lost at an instant. Your business will lose important documents and customer data and if you are lucky it will only cost your company with project delays, loss revenue and productivity. At the very worse, data loss can cost the company its livelihood. If the data is recoverable, it can be a time-consuming and expensive proposition. Ask yourself if your small or medium-size business can survive this sort of loss. Understandably, there’s a growing need for protected storage. If people don’t know what RAID (”Redundant Array of Independent Disks”) is today, they will find out soon enough. RAID is simply a way of pooling disks into one big virtual disk. If one of the disks in that pool fails, the data from the failed disk can be resurrected by the parity information kept on the surviving disks in the pool. In simple terms, this means that if one disk fails, access to your data is still intact. The cost of safe-guarding your data comes at a price of one disk capacity, regardless of whether your RAID volume consists of two drives or six drives. For example, a ReadyNAS with six 1 TB drives will have a protected capacity of 5 TB. With the price of disks being relatively cheap and data loss and recovery being so expensive, it’s really foolish not to use protected storage that RAID provides.

NVX comes with X-RAID2

The ReadyNAS NVX goes actually a step further than just RAID. It uses an ingenious technology developed by NETGEAR called X-RAID2™, a 2nd generation X-RAID technology that has been used in the existing award-winning line of ReadyNAS products. With X-RAID2, you can expand your data volume from one disk up to the max the ReadyNAS can house while the ReadyNAS is online. In a work environment, that means you don’t have to tell your staff to stop working while you’re trying to accommodate more capacity.

And once you’ve filled out all the slots and you’re near capacity, you can continue to expand by replacing out the disks one-by-one with larger disks, again, without needing to migrate your data out and back again. X-RAID2 will automatically expand when as little as two of your disks have extra capacity. Your data volume can keep growing every time you add a larger disk after that. It’s as simple as that — you don’t need a degree in RAID technology to do this. For a video demo about X-RAID2.

Other NAS may tout that they have “online” RAID expansion just like X-RAID, but take a closer look and you’ll see it’s just not quite that simple. Not only are there complex RAID migration steps involved, but they don’t mention that if you encounter a power loss during the process, you can say goodbye to your data for good.

With X-RAID2, you can turn off the power as many times as you want during the expansion, and it’ll continue where it left off.

The NVX is F-A-S-T

Mind-blazingly fast, that is. When was the last time your network drive was faster than the disk on your PC or Mac? To properly measure the performance potential in our performance lab, we had to utilize a large ramdisk or a RAID 0 with 3 striped disks on our client boxes. The local disks were clearly not fast enough to push the NVX.

With the proper setup, we clock it at 85 MB/sec (that’s megabytes per second) when reading and 78 MB/sec when writing to the ReadyNAS, and that’s with the NVX running in a protected X-RAID2 setting. With that type of speed, you can be sure it can handle a boat load of users and not suffer performance degradation like other devices would. And it means it’s a device you don’t have to throw out and replace in a couple years.

NVX at work

The ReadyNAS NVX is all business at the office, and it comes with 2 security levels suitable for environments with and without Active Directory service. Joining into an existing Active Directory environment is a snap, and within a few clicks, all existing users and groups from the directory can start using the ReadyNAS.

In addition, the NVX comes with snapshot support. Consider a snapshot as an instant point-in-time image of your data, sort of like a photo you take with a camera. Regardless of the number of files or the volume usage on the ReadyNAS, a snapshot only takes a couple of seconds, and you can continue using the ReadyNAS without interruption. If you inadvertantly change or delete files after you’ve taken a snapshot, you can always revert to the version saved in that snapshot. Just drag & drop files back from the snapshot share. This can be useful if your files were infected with a virus and you needed to revert back to a good copy.

A snapshot can also be scheduled to coincide with your backups. Typical backups can take hours, so a backup of a snapshot insures that you’re making copies of files that won’t be changing during the backup process.

On the subject of backup, the ReadyNAS comes with a built-in backup manager supporting a variety of file protocols, including CIFS, NFS, HTTP, FTP, and RSYNC. And because the backup manager runs right on the ReadyNAS, you don’t need to load a separate backup software on your client systems.

And with iSCSI support, the NVX can act as an iSCSI target LUN while still working as a NAS. This allows your Exchange or Oracle database to use a portion of your data volume for iSCSI, yet maintain the rest of the volume for file sharing. And in environments where Windows ACLs are required, iSCSI gives you that extra level of compatibility.

And the NVX allows the dual gigabit Ethernet interfaces to be bonded for optimal performance in multi-user environments and provide failover support in case of network failure.

As you can see, the ReadyNAS NVX is well-suited in business environments.

NVX in the home

With the number of computers in an average household approaching four or more, the need to consolidate storage and backup into one device, like the ReadyNAS NVX, is a definite appeal, especially if that device can provide versatility beyond just file sharing and data protection.

In the home, ReadyNAS systems are without a doubt the choice of the AV community. Not only does the NVX provides ample protected storage for all the digital media content, it can be used to stream to all popular media streaming devices, often referred to as DMAs (”Digital Media Adapters”) without the need to have you PC or Mac powered on. The trend definitely is to use low power-consuming devices like the ReadyNAS (more on this later) in place of general-purpose power-hungry desktop systems for streaming.

This means devices like PS3, XBOX 360, Logitech Squeezebox, SONOS Digital Music System, and NETGEAR’s own EVA 8000/9150 Digital Entertainer HD/Elite can all play media files straight from the NVX. Stream all you want — the NVX is designed to handle even the most demanding streaming applications with ease.

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