The TS-1279U-RP is QNAP's first foray into the high-end small business storage market and appears to be a well-conceived and reasonably scalable appliance.
QNAP has designed the appliance to address the needs of the larger SMB as it can offer up to 36TB of storage in a compact 2U format and is configurable for both NAS and iSCSI SAN sharing.
The rack-mount chassis has an all-metal construction with dual redundant power supplies (hence RP at the end of the name) and there are twin Gigabit Ethernet ports for LAN attachment complete with support for a selection of load balancing and redundancy options.
An Intel Core i3 dual-core 3.3GHz processor provides the necessary computational power, supported by 2GB of DDR3 memory. This is upgradeable to 4GB by plugging in a second DIMM. There are also two PCI express expansion slots to accommodate the latest 10 Gigabit network adapters. These can be from either Emulex or Intel and need to be sourced separately.
Mix and match storage
The disks plug in at the front with 12 hot-swap bays arranged in three rows across the width of the unit. A screwdriver is needed to fit the disks into the caddies supplied, but it's not difficult and they slide in easily with a button on each to stop the caddies being ejected by accident. On the downside there are no locks, which could be an issue for some users.
For those after an easy life, the QNAP appliance can be bought readily populated with suitable disks. Our review unit came empty, so we had to organise our own memory. There is a choice of 3.5in or 2.5in SATA drives, including the latest SATA-300 (6Gbit/s) products or even solid state disks, for those who can afford them.
For the best results a matched set of fast, enterprise-quality disks are recommended. However, that's not mandatory and we made do with a mixture of makes and capacities. This wasn't ideal but caused no problems when it came to creating volumes or sharing them on our test network. Moreover, we found the process very easy using the built-in web interface, which allowed us to choose between RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 6 and 10, formatted using either the EXT3 or EXT4 file system.
NAS volumes can be security encrypted and access managed via a variety of technologies including both a local user list and Active Directory authentication. A default set of network shares is also configured as part of the setup process and as well as Windows there's support for Apple and NFS file sharing and a built-in FTP server.