Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials: Enabling a Full-Featured, Affordable NAS for Small Businesses and SOHO Environments
Hi Folks –
You may have seen Thecus’s recent press release about becoming the first Microsoft OEM partner to offer network attached storage (NAS) solutions based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials. This is a brand-new edition of Windows Storage Server, which we created to enable affordable, easy-to-use, cloud-connected NAS appliances for small businesses and small office/home office (SOHO) environments. Thecus has been a leading storage OEM for years, so it’s no surprise that they were the first to embrace Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials as a means of delivering unprecedented value to this segment of the market.
If you’re not familiar with what a NAS is and how it works, in simple terms, you can think of it as centralized file storage that’s attached to your home or office network for easy, shared access by multiple PCs and other devices. Sounds like a file server, huh? You’re right, for the most part. The major difference is that a traditional file server is usually a general-purpose server that’s setup for sharing files, whereas NAS devices are typically prebuilt, ready-to-deploy appliances that are designed from the ground up for file sharing.
The past few years have seen a proliferation of toaster-size NAS appliances, which in many ways are more suitable than a traditional file server for small business/SOHO environments. They’re more affordable, require less space, consume less power, generate less heat, and have modern Intel Atom processors that can usually handle the workload. However, the vast majority of these devices are based on Linux, which often falls short when it comes to ease-of-deployment, ease-of-use, and ease-of-integration with the mix of Windows-based PCs, Macs, smartphones, printers, and other devices within the typical small business/SOHO environment.
Several NAS OEMs have started to address these shortcomings by offering Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Standard or Workgroup as an alternative to Linux on their Atom-powered solutions. However, these Windows-powered devices have been disadvantaged by a price premium over similar models that are based on “free” Linux. Not only was the target customer base for these devices forced to trade-off functionality for price, but the decision process was further complicated by the question, “What’s all this talk about ‘the cloud’, how does it figure into our business, and should we take that direction instead.”
This is where Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials delivers the best of all worlds:
An unmatched, enterprise-class feature set built using Windows Server 2012 R2 platform technologies.
A simplified management experience designed for people without any major IT skills.
Painless, optional integration with cloud-based services from Microsoft and others.
Price points that make these new NAS devices just as affordable as their Linux counterparts.
Obviously, the end result of all this is greater value for the customer, which is why we think that Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials will be a huge hit with small business/SOHO customers who need a business-grade, feature-rich, cloud-ready NAS at an affordable price!
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials has already received an Intel Technology Innovation Accelerated (TIA) Award at Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2014, where it was recognized for “innovation in the integration of suites of hardware, software, services and support that creates new capabilities for all facets in people’s lives – focusing on productivity, information and entertainment.” As Intel put it in the press release, Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials enables small organizations to “focus on their core business instead of managing IT and still have access to file storage on any device, protect critical data and make cloud integration possible.”
So Where Can I Buy One?
Thecus is the first OEM to deliver new NAS appliances running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials. These include a 2-bay W2000, a 4-bay W4000, and a 5-bay W5000, all of which are just now becoming available through the company’s distribution partners. Considering all that you can get for your money (a diskless 2-bay W2000 runs about $350 MSRP), I think it’s fair to say that Thecus’s new NAS appliances based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials are a screaming good value! I’ll be getting a new Thecus NAS this week and I’ll post a review on it as soon as possible.
As additional OEMs announce solutions based on Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials, I’ll be sure to give you a heads-up on this blog! In the meantime, you may want to check out this short video on the new Essentials edition. Also, stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll take a closer look at these devices from three perspectives: the hardware, the software, and connectivity with the cloud.
Scott M. Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server