NAS

Tandberg Data RDX QuikStation 8 Review

Editors Choice

RDX 4TB Media

As an SMB backup solution, tape has come and gone but Tandberg Data’s RDX removable drive technology has stayed the course. It’s a more affordable alternative to Ultrium LTO tape drives, it works with pretty much any operating system and the latest 4TB cartridges make it even more versatile.

Tandberg Data’s RDX QuikStation 8 takes this format to the next development phase as it offers eight internal SATA RDX drives in a 2U chassis. It’s a pure IP SAN appliance which presents the drives to the network as iSCSI devices and this latest version offers an even wider range of emulation modes.

The QuikStation 8 benefits from an updated hardware specification as its sports a fast 3.6GHz Core i3-4160 CPU teamed up with 16GB of DDR3 memory. Along with four Gigabit data ports, the model on review also comes with a single-port Intel 10GBase-T network adapter card and supports optional dual 400W hot-plug PSUs.

QuikStation 8 front

Simple installation

The appliance can present eight standard removable drives as iSCSI targets

The appliance can present eight standard removable drives as iSCSI targets

Installation only took a few minutes as we hooked up a local monitor to the appliance and waited for its boot screen to show us when it had grabbed an IP address from our DHCP server. If this is problematic you can pop a USB stick in the appliance with a ‘network.info’ file created on it and it will update this with its IP address assignments.

The web interface is well designed and its home page provides a list of the slots along with details of the loaded cartridges. It’ll also check online for the latest firmware and automatically update itself.

From the home page, we could eject, erase or test selected media and choose whether each drive appears to a host as a removable or a fixed drive. When a host is connected to a drive bay, you can’t erase its cartridge from the web console or use the control buttons on the front panel to manually eject it.

By default, each drive is presented as a separate iSCSI target which appear to initiators as standard removable or fixed hard disks. However, the QuikStation 8 goes way beyond this simple premise as Tandberg Data has implemented a wide range of emulation modes to ensure it’ll work with any host or software app.

Emulation modes

tandberg 1

The QuikStation 8 is very versatile and supports a multitude of different emulation modes

We found our Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts had no problems working with the removable drives which could be ejected directly from Windows Explorer. However, apps such as Windows Backup will only use fixed hard disks as backup targets which the QuikStation 8 happily supports.

New modes now supported include emulation of a single disk autoloader with eight slots. Logged in initiators only see a target for the autoloader and one drive but if you eject the cartridge, it automatically cycles over to the next available one.

You can have two separate fixed or removable logical volumes each using the upper or lower rows of drives. The protected mode presents the drives as fixed or removable logical volumes with either single or dual-drive redundancy.

Backup apps that want to see a tape library will work happily with the appliance as it can present itself as a Tandberg Data StorageLoader LTO with eight slots and one LTO-3 drive or a StorageLibrary T24 with two LTO-3 drives. Even better, the hybrid emulation mode presents a four-slot StorageLoader LTO library and four standard RDX drives.

Great performance

We used multiple Lenovo System x Xeon E5-2600 v4 Windows servers to test performance and connected them all up to a 10GbE switch along with the QuikStation 8. With one server connected to a removable drive target loaded with a 1TB RDX cartridge, we saw Iometer return raw read and write speeds of 99MB/sec and 80MB/sec.

Adding a second server with a dedicated target saw cumulative read and write speeds of 190MB/sec and 150MB/sec showing minimal resource contention. The good news continued with a third server in the mix as speeds increased to 285MB/sec and 221MB/sec.

For greater performance, Tandberg Data also offers SSD-based cartridges. They are expensive but are much faster than standard cartridges with tests on a 128GB model in fixed disk emulation mode returning fast read and write speeds of 277MB/sec and 262MB/sec.

Backup Exec had no problems working with the appliance’s StorageLoader LTO emulation mode

Backup Exec had no problems working with the appliance’s StorageLoader LTO emulation mode

Compatibility

The QuikStation 8 obviously had no issues with our Windows Server 2012 R2 hosts and to test backup software compatibility we used the latest Veritas Backup Exec 16 loaded on a Windows Server 2016 system. It worked fine with removable disk targets and we could set our backup jobs to eject the media on completion.

Switching to a new emulation requires the appliance to be rebooted and all cartridges ejected but this only takes five minutes. With the eight-slot RDX autoloader emulation mode selected, Backup Exec saw one drive but when its cartridge was ejected it simply cycled over to the next available slot.

The StorageLoader LTO tape library emulation creates iSCSI targets for the medium changer and the LTO-3 tape drive. After we restarted Backup Exec’s services, it automatically found the new hardware and presented a robotic tape library for use as a backup device.

Tape beater

The only downside of RDX is the media is expensive when compared to tape – LTO delivers $0.02/GB whereas RDX is $0.12/GB. Even so, the QuikStation 8 is much more versatile than LTO and another bonus is its superior backward compatibility.

At best, Ultrium LTO only has backward read compatibility with the previous two generations. An RDX drive will read from and write to the very first 40GB cartridges that were introduced over ten years ago.

The RDX QuikStation 8 is an excellent choice for small businesses that want to manage their own data backup and off-site storage. It’s more affordable and easier to manage than tape, delivers good performance over 10GbE and its multitude of device emulation modes make it highly versatile.

Where to buy
RDX® QuikStation™ 8

RDX QuikStation 8 is an iSCSI network-attached removable disk appliance designed to provide a flexible platform for data protection and off site disaster recovery for physical or virtual SMB and SME environments. The RDX QuikStation 8 provides 8 integrated RDX drives. Combined with Tandberg Data’s 4TB RDX media, the system provides up to 32TB of online capacity and unlimited offline capacity.

$3899

Review Score
8.2 Total Score
Tandberg QuikStation 8

The RDX QuikStation 8 is an excellent choice for small businesses that want to manage their own data backup and off-site storage. It’s more affordable and easier to manage than tape, delivers good performance over 10GbE and its multitude of device emulation modes make it highly versatile.

Performance
8
Features
8.5
Build Quality
8
Usability
8.5
Value
8
PROS
  • Eight RDX drives
  • Integral 10GbE port
  • Good overall performance
  • Versatile emulation modes
  • Full backward cartridge compatilibility
CONS
  • RDX media is comparatively expensive
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