- Review Price: £1360.00
Iomega has been busy of late promoting its REV removable storage products as the ideal alternative to tape backup and the latest REV Autoloader 1000 moves it into direct competition with tape based autoloader devices in the SME marketplace. Equally suited to the desktop or in a rack cabinet this sleek 2U chassis has a single internal REV drive surrounded by a carousel with ten slots allowing it to offer a maximum storage capacity of 350GB.
The product is aimed particularly at the DDS-4 format although this is a soft target as it’s a tape technology that’s some six years old, has a market share in decline and its top performance of 3MB/sec is pedestrian by today’s standards. Even so, the Autoloader 1000 also compares very well with DAT72 as a six tape autoloader costs around the same and it delivers a similar storage capacity. However, Iomega wipes the floor with it for performance – whereas DAT 72 can only muster a paltry 3MB/sec the Autoloader 1000 offers an eight-fold speed boost to no less than 25MB/sec. Although it can’t compete on capacity, these speeds put Iomega on a par with medium level tape drives such as Sony’s AIT-4 and Ultrium LTO-1. Note that REV drives don’t support hardware compression but if your backup software offers software compression then total capacity could be doubled.
As we’ve seen with Iomega’s NAS 200d, design has always been one this manufacturer’s strong points and the well built Autoloader 1000 is no exception. The thick plastic front panel has a single slot for access to the media and a motorised door keep the internals dust free. Alongside is an LCD display and control panel which provides access for checking device status and manual configuration. The unit can be placed off-line and then you can use the import and export commands for loading and unloading single REV cartridges and placing them in the drive. A bulk exchange feature speeds things up and this can be used to load and unload multiple cartridges.
Optional features are good with a remote management unit (RMU) and a bar-code reader costing £230 and £390 respectively. The RMU plugs into a slot at the rear to provide full network access via a web browser. The interface is nicely designed and opens with a full status readout on the device. All commands available at the front panel are also accessible from here so you can modify SCSI IDs for the drive and loader arm, change the mode of operation and enable the bar code reader if installed. A trace log of all events is maintained and any errors can be linked to a single email address for notification purposes. All media operations can be carried out remotely so you can unload the drive and place media in a specific slot, load selected cartridges into the drive, fire off import and export tasks and reinitialise the library controller.
The Autoloader is easy enough to install and the dual SCSI ports support a number of scenarios as it can be linked to a standard server or maybe to a suitably equipped NAS appliance. For testing we connected it to an Adaptec Ultra320 adapter in a dual Xeon system running Windows Server 2003. No driver is supplied for the loader arm so it appears under Device Manager as an unknown medium changer. As with the standalone REV drives which use the UDF file format you’ll find the internal drive also appears as a CD-DVD drive. With the bundled Iomega System Software it can be used for standard removable media duties and can be formatted, ejected, write disabled and password protected directly from Windows Explorer.
Fully automated backup is on Iomega’s menu as the Autoloader 1000 also comes complete with Computer Associates ARCserver11.1 software which we’ve always found to be one the best backup products on the market. It’s very easy to use and had no problems identifying the drive, loader arm and slots. Support for other backup software is coming on-line and Iomega advised us that the device is currently being certified with EMC Dantz Retrospect and Veritas Backup Exec for Windows Servers.
For performance testing we asked ARCserve to secure, verify and restore a 9GB mish-mash of data comprising documents, spreadsheets, databases and presentations along with HTML files, video clips, bitmaps, sound files and Acrobat .PDF files. Iomega clearly delivers on the quoted speeds as the backup task was completed at an average speed of 21.3MB/sec while disk-to-disk verification returned 21.6MB/sec. Speed only dropped slightly for read operations as ARCserve reported an average transfer rate of 20.8MB/sec whilst returning all the data to its original location.
The Autoloader 1000 combines a good storage capacity with excellent performance making it a solid alternative to standard tape autoloader devices. It compares very favourably with DDS-4 and DAT72 based products and also brings into play good remote management features. Media reliability is a key issue but we have been testing the same piece of REV media for removable storage duties on a daily basis for six months now and haven’t experienced any problems.
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