Iomega surprised exactly no one by announcing an updated 12-drive rack mount storage array today. Featuring “Cloud Edition” software introduced earlier this year, the px12-350r also sports mildly updated hardware specs, though still relies on Intel’s “Core2 Duo” CPUs and Gigabit Ethernet. The new device slots in between the desktop px4/px6 line and parent EMC’s new VNXe storage devices.
What’s In A Name?
According to Iomega’s established naming standard, the px12-350r uses the new “Cloud Edition” OS (“px”), features 12 drives, ought to perform better (“350”) than the existing “300” devices, and is rack-mountable. Comparing it to the previous-generation ix12-300r reveals what Iomega changed and what they didn’t.
What’s new compared with the ix12-300r:
- Iomega stepped up from 5900 rpm “green” drives to faster 7200 rpm disks for more rotational IOPS
- 3 TB drives are now available, for a maximum of 36 TB raw storage, though many customers will likely choose less-expensive 2 TB drives instead
- Solid-state drives (SSD) are now available as an option like the desktop px line, though Iomega doesn’t get automatic sub-LUN tiered storage like EMC’s VNXe line
- The “Cloud Edition” OS includes Iomega’s nifty “personal cloud” replication features, allowing data to be moved to other Iomega px devices
- This new OS also supports SCSI3 persistent reservations, required to support many clustered server operating systems
- Iomega finally rolled out the Avamar deduplicating backup client I spotted last year at EMC World a few months ago, and it will be a featured component of the px12-350r
- On the hardware side, Iomega doubled the system memory to 4 GB, so it should handle more users than the previous device
- The px12-350r still uses Intel’s older Core2 Duo CPU range, though it’s not clear if this is the same 3 GHz E8400 chip
- The ix12-350r still features quad Gigabit Ethernet ports, not 10 Gigabit Ethernet like some competing products from companies like D-Link, HP, Overland, and Winchester
Impressions of the px12-350r
Overall, I’m pleased but not overly amazed by Iomega’s new top-of-the-line device. This is partly due to the fact that I knew what was coming: This product was telegraphed by the px4-300r introduced previously. In fact, the shipping px12-350r doesn’t even offer the enhancements I expected: I suggested it would include Sandy Bridge CPUs and hoped for 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
I still expect a transition to next-generation Core CPUs in the coming year, and boxes like this will likely use that extra horsepower to run additional applications. I’m dreaming of a Sandy Bridge Xeon box with an integrated copy of VMware ESXi and 10 Gb Ethernet – such a device would be awesome for remote offices or small businesses!
Iomega’s “personal cloud” technology is perhaps improperly named for this product. It allows a small or mid-sized business to replicate and protect data to another Iomega px-series device without any monthly fees. The device can also back up to Mozy or Amazon S3, and the integrated Avamar client will be appreciated by larger customers.
This product, like the desktops and the previous-generation ix12-300r, includes PCI Express slots. I had hoped these might be populated with optional 10 Gigabit Ethernet cards (as many competitors offer) but these haven’t turned up yet. Iomega suggests smaller IT groups are still holding off on 10 GbE, perhaps waiting for 10GBASE-T. But 10 GbE pricing is dropping rapidly, and I’m seeing much interest from end users. I strongly suggest Iomega roll out this connectivity option in short order!
It’s interesting that VMware chose to develop their own software for the vSphere Storage Appliance (VSA) in vSphere 5 rather than use this Iomega/EMC LifeLine OS. LifeLine is possible as a VM: It will be available in the lab at VMworld! But this is not available for production.
Despite a lack of surprises, the px12-350r is still a solid SMB or remote office product. Retail price is $6k-$10k, slotting in below the EMC VNXe3100, and the device’s features reflect this product stratification as well. The consumer-sounding “personal cloud” data replication is actually much more useful in a small-business environment, and I suspect Iomega resellers will be pushing this (as long as they don’t sell some other replication option).
I expect further product updates from Iomega in the coming year, including a switch to Sandy Bridge (second-generation Intel Core) CPUs and the availability of 10 GbE. I’d also like to see the LifeLine software (and Iomega’s recommendations) abandon RAID5 in favor of some wide-striping “post-RAID” for performance and reliability. And integrated automated storage tiering would be great, though this would really show up the “big brother” VNXe line. Hey, a guy can dream right?