When last we looked at the QNAP TurboNAS, we evaluated an 8-bay unit and found it to be suitable for most small-to-medium business needs. This time, we will examine the TS-1279U-RP, a 12-bay storage unit with most of the same hardware components as the smaller-capacity 8-bay unit. Both come in a 2U size rack-mount box with an Intel Core i3-2120, 3.30GHz CPU and 2GB of memory running a custom version of Ubuntu on the 220.127.116.11 Linux kernel. There is another version of this unit, the TS-EC1279U-RP, that has a Xeon CPU and 4GB ECC RAM. It's targeted at heavy server application usage, where the box is used for both storage and other services.
Visually, you'll see quickly that the 12-bay unit does not include an LCD front panel. This means you will not be able to configure or see instant status information directly on the unit as you can with the 8-bay product. While this might be an issue for some, it really shouldn't be for most users, as it will more than likely be installed in a server cabinet that you wouldn't normally have easy access to anyway. The rear panel of the two units is virtually identical, providing the same number of Ethernet, eSATA and USB ports.
QNAP provides a number of features that make its 79-series products enterprise-ready. If you want a storage box to function in an enterprise environment, it must include iSCSI functionality. The management software has been updated to version 3.7, and it now uses a snappy AJAX user interface. It includes a number of wizard-based setup and configuration tools to simplify things like enabling an iSCSI target. Once you complete the steps of the wizard you'll have an iSCSI target available to any client machine on your network, as Figure 1 demonstrates.
NFS is another enterprise capability frequently used by virtualization products like VMware. You can enable any network share for NFS with a few clicks on the management panel. Once enabled, you'll be able to add the NFS share as an available Datastore using the VMware vSphere client application. We tested this out using vSphere 5.1 and had it up and running in just a few minutes. For testing purposes, we did not enable any authentication, but that is fairly straightforward as well.
Speaking of security, the QNAP software supports both Active Directory and LDAP authentication. You can also enable simple security by creating users and groups through the web management interface and manually configure individual access rights. However, you would want to use this option only for small workgroups or remote offices, as managing individual users can get out of hand in a hurry.
QNAP provides a number of backup options including RSYNC, Real-time Remote Replication (RTRR), Apple Time Machine and to an externally attached device. There's also support for cloud-based storage, including Amazon S3, Elephant Drive and Symform. These are all paid services, so you'll need an established account with any of these providers before you can use them. The final feature that may be of interest for remote office applications is the VPN service. QNAP supports the standard PPTP VPN and the Open VPN server.
QNAP provides mobile apps for both Android and iOS to manage your server and your files. We downloaded the Android apps and installed them on a Nexus phone to give them a spin. The QManager application lets you see the current status of your file server, as shown in Figure 2. Once you have your credentials entered, you can view backup status or system logs or even restart or shut the system down. The app saves your login credentials so you might want to add a lock screen and password to your phone if you haven't already.
The QFile tool (see Figure 3) gives you quick access to files on your server and lets you configure your device to easily move files between the two. This app also stores your login information so the same caution applies. The final feature with a mobile flair is the MyCloudNAS service.
This application works in conjunction with the web-based service MyCloudNAS to provide secure access to your NAS from literally anywhere you can get an Internet connection. This feature requires a number of ports to be opened on a firewall or router for it to function properly (see Figure 4).
The QNAP 79 series of storage products offer a wide array of services to meet most every need. With the TS-1279U-RP you lose the LCD display and front panel manageability, but you gain four extra drive bays. Using 3 TB hard drives equates to an additional 12 TB of storage space. It's definitely worth the look if you're in the market for cost-effective storage alternatives.