Almost every small company out there needs a minimum level of IT services: file serving, document management, e-mail, and so on. Most of those services can now be found in the Cloud: Google Apps Professional, Microsoft Office 365, Dropbox, Amazon AWS, and many others can take care of nearly any IT service you can think off. Although trendy, cloud services are not without disadvantages.

One example related to our review today is that the latency involved in accessing data over the internet is much higher than on a LAN. While network latency of a well configured LAN is less than half a millisecond, the latency of accessing a cloud service is several tens of milliseconds. And although high bandwidth Internet access has become a lot cheaper over the years, a 100 mbit/s or better is still not widespread among smaller companies, where a 1Gbps LAN is easily attainable. Moreover, while renting a few Terrabytes in the cloud has become relatively affordable, you again run into speed issues, especially if you have massive amounts of data that you want to analyze -- or if you simply feel that a third party should have no control over your (sensitive) data.

So if you require high bandwidth file serving and low latency database access, or if you need massive amounts of storage capacity, a local server could still be the attractive option. Of course, as a small company you likely don't have nor want a dedicated data center (or even just a smaller data room). A decent data room can be an expensive investment (e.g. it would need CRAC and other facilities) and the energy cost can be very high. Due to the costs, some might be tempted to use what others would consider an old fashioned twentieth century option: a server somewhere on a shelf or under a desk. But there are some 21st century requirements that are needed, so a noisy, power hungry tower server is out of the question. Density isn't generally an issue, but it would be great if the server is able to cool it's components in an office environment without being louder than the ambient office noise -- local whirlwinds are generally frowned upon.

The desire for a quiet, low energy server underneath your desk can still make sense: you are in control of your data, the capex investment is limited, and with a little help from a good service provider, it is workable even for those who don’t have an IT department. Sometimes, old and tried methods beat the newest hype. Advatronix felt that it could do better than the current tower server offerings and designed a proprietary chassis that resembles a cube shaped desktop.

The reason behind this rather bulky chassis with 18 (!) drivebays is that most companies that need an in-house server usually have high storage demands: they need low latency, high capacity, or both. Thus there must be enough room for plenty of magnetic disks and some space for an SSD caching tier. And of course, a large chassis also allows large fans and thus relatively quiet operation. In a nutshell, Advatronix feels the Cirrus 1200 sets itself apart from the competition for the following reasons:

  • Quiet (enough) operation
  • Low Power, able to keep to cool in an office environment (no need for a CRAC)
  • Magnetic filter to cope with the fact that this server will be in dusty office instead of a clean data center
  • A good mix of components with a focus on storage performance

As the IT services of small companies are typically bottlenecked by storage and not by CPU performance, the Cirrus 1200 uses a low power quad-core Xeon E3 with up to 32GB of RAM. It's certainly nothing earth shattering, but the combination of all points mentioned above might make the Cirrrus 1200 very attractive for a certain market niche.

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  • Gunbuster - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    The Dell T620 has a chassis option for 32 2.5" Hard Drives Reply
  • valinor89 - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    "Moreover, while renting a few Terrabytes in the cloud has become relatively affordable..."
    Terrabytes is meant as a joke or a typo? It sounds cool anyway.
    Reply
  • rpg1966 - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    Terrabytes!

    https://d2kxqxnk1i5o9a.cloudfront.net/uploads/pict...
    Reply
  • thunderbird32 - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    Fujitsu is a weird company. I've never been able to find a reseller that carries their x86 servers or workstations. One wonders how much business they do in that category in the US. Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - link

    Thanks for sharing. Each time I went to Cebit, the people at Fujitsu had little interest talking to me, as I was international press. It is like the x86 line is their just to complete their product portfolio. Reply
  • Drizzt321 - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    I would have liked to have seen an option to ditch the RAID cards and move to simple HBA cards to allow OS management of the arrays. Would also probably decrease the cost by a good bit. Reply
  • npz - Friday, June 06, 2014 - link

    Yes, I think that would actually be a better option for *nix too.
    Either LSI non-RAID5/no-mem HBAs or the new Rocket 750 from HighPoint:
    http://www.highpoint-tech.com/USA_new/series_R750-...
    used in Backblaze's storage pods.
    However, I absolutely do not recommend the Highpoint raid (mostly fakeraid anyways) cards for *nix!
    Reply
  • sciencegey - Saturday, June 07, 2014 - link

    This thing seems kinda pointless because if you are a small business, you can get a cheap server rack and then get a storage server and even have places to put your network switch and VoIP box. This means you won't have to take up precious office space (you can mount server racks on walls) with this giant blue box. If you are really too cheap for a server rack-mount system, then you would probably just build your own file server, which is pretty easy (if you love Linux, make you own distro, use current distros like FreeNAS or shell out to get Windows Server. And if you are using Macs, then you just use a Time Machine/hackintosh as a Time Machine). Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Sunday, June 08, 2014 - link

    The last point is where you make a reasoning error. Most enterprises just do not want to build their own fileserver, otherwise there would be not NAS market. Reply
  • sciencegey - Monday, June 09, 2014 - link

    I was using the last point as an example of what a SOHO could do, which this storage server is targeted at. Reply

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