QNAP TS-EC879U-RP with 10GbE Enterprise-level NAS – Reviewed

Written by Martin Regtien on . Posted in Storage

qnap.pngIn the market for an enterprise-level solution for your critical data? If you are, you’ve come to the right place: we are reviewing a few NAS units for the big end of town. Today’s write-up features the QNAP TS-EC879U-RP. This is an 8 bay unit, rack mounted (2U) with Redundant Power Supply. We’ve had plenty of experience with QNAP’s product line and if QNAP stands for "Quality Network Appliance Provider", they have amply proven that in the past.

Today’s unit under review is the top-of-the-line machine from this Taiwanese company which we’ve been testing out and using for several months.

When discussing Network Attached Storage it’s relatively easy to delve into the bits and bytes of the unit being dissected. Complete with trying to duplicate the testing that the factory has done much more extensively. Those technical reviews are fine but when you talk about enterprise-level machines we believe the summary-type review is best suited for management who make the ultimate decisions on purchasing.

Generally, the more expensive an item is the shorter the reviews. After all, most new car reviews seldom extend beyond an A4 length review. As a former flight instructor I have reviewed aeroplanes with purchase prices in the 6 figures in just 2 or 3 pages in a magazine but I also have waxed lyrical about simple memory cards in the early days – some 10 years ago! - of  DigitalReviews.net…Go figure!

These days we go for simple. Even though there’s nothing simple about the TS-EC879U. And there’s certainly nothing simple about having to simplify a very complex machine! Yet, some specs are in order so let’s get this out of the way first.

The QNAP TS-879U-RP is a diskless 8 bay rackmount, sporting 2x GBLAN, USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 4, eSATA x 2, a powerful Quad Core Intel Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Processor, 4 GB DDR3 ECC RAM, 2U, JBOD/RAID 0/1/5/6; Redundant PSU, SATA 6Gb/s or 3Gb/s. The outstanding data transfer rate of over 1,000 MB/s data throughput and 100,000 IOPS, means it can handle the most intensive business applications. With a retail price just shy of 5 grand (USD4827 from Amazon) you still need to source the all-important HDDs – 8 of them. And they’d better be enterprise-level quality too so that they will match the hardware where it counts. Further, you’ll need a 10GbE card to unleash all the speed it is capable of.

QNAP TS-EC879U-RP with 10GbE Enterprise-level NAS

The Need for Speed...
…in today’s businesses is evident but also the need for humongous data capacity. Add to this the need for extreme reliability as the critical data becomes ever more valuable and this 24TB speed demon will be most welcome by IT departments. The QNAP TS-879U-RP is not a one-trick pony either and caters for enterprise applications such as backup centre, disaster recovery, file sharing, virtualization, network video recording and video editing storage. This brings us to the question of ease of use: given the complexity of capabilities how easy is this system to configure and how easy is it in daily use? This is where the software, comes in. We’ve written in earlier reviews extensively about QNAP’s software and their QSM (QNAP Storage Manager) is now at Version 3.5. We found the software very intuitive to use and it supports a smorgasbord of applications.

Even though the software make the configuration a breeze and doesn’t require huge expertise, it still is comforting to know that there are companies such as eAegis that will ship this (and other) QNAP models to you with drives installed, formatted, burned in and pre-configured.

Let’s have a look at how QNAP implements key aspects, such as security, performance, reliability and simplicity, in this system.

Security
How secure is data being open in a network?  Normally not very secure but the QNAP TS-EC879U-RP offers encrypted access, IP filtering and policy-based automatic IP blocking. You can stipulate right down to which user can access the NAS and to what level. One of the many security features of the TS-EC879U-RP to stop all unauthorized data access is AES-256 volume-based encryption. No one can access your sensitive data even if the hard drives or the device is stolen.

Simplicity
You can easily set up local or remote access with the TS-EC879U-RP. Often the process is automatic or can be completed via an installation wizard. There are simple management tools such as instant SMS/Email alert, and with S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) the system resource monitor enables administrators to continually know what the status of the NAS is

Reliability
The Redundant Power Supply is indicative of the built-in reliability features of the TS-EC879U-RP.  Power supplies are some of the weakest links in many computers. We’ve had quite a few fail over the years of testing and use. Same with hard drives and even many SSDs, surprisingly. Advanced RAID configurations and hot-swap capabilities are included to give RAID performance, protection and reduced rebuilding time. Moreover, the dual OS embedded on the DOM architecture ensures the system will boot up. Here’s a feature I’d like on my desktop: if one of the two operating systems fails, the healthy operating system will boot up and operate normally while repairing the failed operating system! Redundancy even extends to the dual Gigabit LAN ports which can be configured so that if one network port fails the NAS will still provide continuous services.

High Performance
The specs (see above) are indicative of enabling the TS-EC879U-RP to give the highest speed and throughput available in the market today.   Mind you, the 10GbE card is essential to achieve these speeds as you can see in the graphs below:

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Server Virtualization of IT resources, an increasing phenomenon with software such as VMware, Citrix, and Windows Hyper-V, can take real flight with the bandwidth afforded by the 10GbE cards. See next graph:


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Let’s look at a couple of Primary Applications

Backup Center for Business
The TS-EC879U-RP offers a complete backup solution for businesses with QNAP QBack/NetBak Replicator which supports real-time and scheduled data backup from different platforms such as Windows PCs, Apple Time Machine backup from Mac OS, and third party backup software such as Acronis True Image – our favourite - and Symantec Backup Exec.

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Couple This with Disaster Recovery Solution
The TS-EC879U-RP offers users peace of mind, business continuity, and high availability of data by providing the ability to recover their data from disasters.

Consider for instance:

Real-time Remote Replication
Real-time Remote Replication (RTRR) provides real-time or scheduled data replication between the TS-EC879U-RP and a remote QNAP NAS, an FTP server, or an external drive.

Cloud Storage Backup
I’m not a favourite of the whole Cloud Backup scenario (MegaUpload, anyone?) but I use it very selectively. The TS-EC879U-RP supports Amazon S3 and ElephantDrive cloud storage backup which have several backup modes including real-time, scheduled backup and versioning control so that the data can be restored from any point of time.

Video Editing
Digital film and video production produces volumes of data that require high performance RAID storage with sustainable throughput to balance with the demanding output of video editing. The TS-EC879U-RP fulfils storage and video editing needs with a high speed 10 GbE network interface. Digital videos can be quickly stored and edited on the TS-EC879U-RP directly over the network.

Conclusion
One of our regular readers strongly recommended that we take into account a score for Technical Support. That is a good suggestion but not always feasible nor necessary for all items. However, the supplier you buy these products through should be quickly contactable via email or hotline.That said, we have never had an issue with the QNAP product line in years of testing and using the NAS units. The “Q” in QNAP really does stand for Quality. Plus, the 3 year warranty also gives peace of mind…

This particular unit, the TS-EC879U-RP, is the most outstanding member of that illustrious family of NAS units. Speed and capacity abound in this machine. Speed also comes of course courtesy of the powerful Quad Core Intel Xeon E3-1225 3.1GHz Processor with ECC memory which support the Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI) set. This speeds up the encryption and decryption process by a factor of 3-10x, depending on how it is implemented. And if speed is what you’re after, a $700 10GbE card (or 2) is essential as well as some enterprise-level HDDs.

Did I mention Cat 6 wiring? Fortunately, we already had Cat 6 cables throughout our office but this is probably the least expensive aspect of your investment…Keep in mind that your company’s data is the most precious asset you have and that you need to be able to protect it at all levels and yet enable access to it as well, and you see the complexity of the task. The TS-EC879U-RP is worth your investment but fortunately this QNAP product is also good value for money at less than USD5000.

Our rating for this stellar product is a 9.5 with all the key items of Performance, Built Quality, Appearance, Features and Value for Money scoring well above the 9 points each.
So we have no hesitation to give this product our Editor’s Choice Award !

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