Review: Exablox OneBlox is a storage admin's dream
Smoothly scalable, automatically redundant, set-it-and-forget-it NAS rewrites the network storage playbook
Network-attached storage servers typically offer similar feature sets, and they often deliver similar performance. RAID levels, networking protocols, and many hardware features are standard by nature, leaving little room for innovation in the NAS realm.
Exablox takes a different tack. Rather than compete directly on features and speed, Exablox focuses on simplifying scalability and data redundancy. The result is innovation rarely seen in a storage appliance.
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From a hardware standpoint, the Exablox OneBlox closely resembles other storage devices. A three-inch LCD on the front panel displays basic configuration information such as the management URL, hostname, public IP address, and the name of the OneBlox ring it has joined (more on that below). When this panel is flipped down, it reveals eight 3.5-inch drive bays, which support any combination of SATA or SAS drives. LEDs representing each drive bay show basic health information for each disk. The rear of the OneBlox features a standard power connector, power switch, and four Gigabit Ethernet ports, which automatically bond to the same IP address. The appliance is stackable and supports rack mounting.
OneBlox does include a few nice hardware features. For example, the OneBlox accelerates file access by storing the file index on an SSD. Likewise, a dedicated hardware encryption chip is included to create SHA-1 file hashes for the index and to encrypt the files themselves using AES-256 for data protection. The dedicated hardware allows the OneBlox to perform encryption, compression, and deduplication with minimal overhead.