Kano SureVAULT RAID-5: A portable, plug-and-play USB or FireWire RAID system.
With the increasing demands that high-bandwidth applications place on storage, it's not unusual for servers to run out of storage before they are otherwise obsolete. With Kano Technologies' SureVAULT, branch offices can add external RAID storage to small servers without requiring an internal SCSI adapter. Although designed for desktop storage, SureVAULT is also well-suited for small servers. SureVAULT offers a USB 2.0 or FireWire connection, and two or three drives, for an unformatted capacity from 40 GB to 400 GB. It comes in both a two-drive RAID1 (mirrored) or three-drive RAID5 configuration. The unit is 4.75 inches high, 9.5 inches wide and 12.75 inches deep and weighs 14.5 pounds.
The ability to use USB 2.0 or FireWire means administrators can add storage to either Macintosh- or Intel-based servers, and the plug-and-play setup and connection is simple enough that central office administrators should feel comfortable sending the drive unit to small offices or branch offices that lack skilled PC technicians. Kano pre-partitions the FireWire version for the Macintosh and the USB version for Windows, as although both can be used with either type of system, using the FireWire version with a PC or the USB version with a Mac requires new partitions be created.
We tested USB version 2.0 with three 40 GB drives, for a capacity of 80 GB. Plugging the drive into the USB port of a Windows 2000 system was its sole requirement. The RAID device required no configuration, nor was configuration even possible. A new drive just showed up in the Windows Explorer. After a quick format, the drive was available with a formatted capacity of 68.4 GB.
Removing a drive from the array produced an audible alarm and flashing lights on the device, but data continued to be available. Replacing the drive started a transparent rebuild of the array and did not impact data availability.
Despite SureVAULT's ease of use, we found its performance not on a par with a SCSI-based subsystem at a price a good bit higher than that of adding three drives and an ATA RAID controller to a PC. However, its superb ease of use and the hot-swap capability for replacing bad drives leave it worthy of investigation, particularly for a small or branch office. Since the unit is relatively small and quite portable, it would also be a good way to take new software installations from site to site, or to back up critical data.
Vendor Home Page: Kano Technologies
Product Home Pages: SureVAULT RAID-5
Size: Up to 600 GB
Platform: PC and Macintosh
Price: From $795 for an 80 GB mirrored USB version and $829 for the FireWire version, to $2,175 for the 600 GB USB RAID5 version
Pros: The simplest possible installation and setup for an external RAID5 drive array;
Highly portable and moves easily from system to system;
Automatically rebuilds the array if a drive fails.
Cons: Relatively expensive for the capacity; Performance is less than with a SCSI-based drive array.