IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Equus Nobistor Compact Storage Server Review

Available only to the channel, the Equus Compact Storage Server is a real XEON powered server running Windows Server 2012 R2 that's barely bigger than four-bay NAS. By James E. Gaskin

Since there are millions of small businesses with fewer than 25 employees in the United States, entry-level servers must be on the catalog of every reseller in that market. If you don't have a favorite option, or are tired of calling a white-label desktop a server in order to meet your customer's budget, you should definitely take a look at the Nobistor Compact Storage Server (CSS) from Equus. Available only to the channel, this little box is a real server (Intel Xeon processor) that's barely bigger than many 4-drive NAS (Network Attached Storage) appliances. But unlike those Network Attached Storage units with their home-built directory services, the Nobistor CSS can run a full Windows Server 2012 R2 operating system.

While 'small' may be a relative term, the Nobitsor CSS is just under 11 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and less that 13 inches long. Mostly black with an interesting gray metal screen front, the unit is certainly quiet enough to be on an office shelf. Yet it packs four SAS/SATA drive bays, 16GB of DDR3 ECC memory (server memory, not desktop), and can run operating systems from FreeNAS, NAS4Free, Open-eV7, Ubuntu 13.10, and Fedora 20 as well as Microsoft Windows Server R2 Essentials and Standard.

For a small box, you can stuff a big wad of data inside. Our unit came with two 3.5 inch Seagate 6TB drives set up in RAID 1 for mirrored operation. Add two more 6TB drives, use RAID 5 like most four-drive systems, and you're talking around 20TBs usable storage in a desktop case small enough to become invisible in a modern office.

The unit Equus sent us to torture had Windows Server 2012 R2 installed already. But as the OS list in the previous paragraphs indicate, you can use this basic server to make your own white-label NAS or Linux server as well. It looks better than a white-label desktop, and includes four 2.5 inch hot-swap drive bays. You can get four bays in a desktop, but not configured automatically to run SATA RAID O, 1, 5, and 10. Another bonus: dual 1Gbps NICs, and an Intel Xeon E3-1200 v3 processor. Need a little more? There's also a PCI ex Gen 3.0 slot, along with four USB 2.0 ports and two USB 3.0 ports. Remember serial ports? There's one of those, and a DVI port with VGA adapter. A combo keyboard / mouse port supports either one; use a USB port for the other peripheral.

In operation, the box is nearly silent. The front metal mesh door lets the disk lights show, which can be pretty exciting if you fill it with RAID 5 and start doing huge file transfers. Heat isn't a problem, because the unit only has a 250 watt power supply and uses far less energy than a full-size server.

Performance? More powerful than most NAS appliances, many of which use Intel Atom processors while this has a Xeon processor. The box performed fine supporting Windows Server 2012 R2, but few servers feel lighting fast running Windows Server.

Those resellers looking for a high-performance white label NAS will value the Xeon processor and dual 1Gbps Ethernet ports. Resellers can order the unit with disks, or provide their own. No extra RAID controller is necessary since one comes with the unit.

Those looking for a great platform for Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials will also find this an excellent choice. For many small businesses, their first shared storage system could easily be a NAS or a small Windows server. Using the Equus Nobistor Contact Storage Server gives resellers one box that can do both with strong performance and small business-friendly pricing.

About the Author

James E. Gaskin's picture

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

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