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Sometimes I feel like the patron saint of lost causes. I love Windows Phone. And I love Microsoft's lineup of "Colorado" servers. Quick! Can you name even one of them?


I'll end the embarrassment. There's Windows Home Server 2011 and Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials, both of which I use in my own home-based office infrastructure. And then there's the even lesser-known Windows Storage Server 2008 R2. And no, I have no idea why that product didn't get the 2011 name. Just to keep things confusing, I'd guess.

Anyway, these servers have a lot in common. A common infrastructure based on Windows Server 2008 R2. A common Dashboard, for managing the server, yes, but also for providing a common add-in capability across the products. And they're all very low priced, given what they are and what they do.

What's been missing, in all three products' cases, is hardware. That is, dedicated, pre-built server hardware based on these new 2011-era Microsoft home and small business servers. The situation is so dire, in fact, that my own WHS 2011 and SBSE 2011 installs were done on repurposed PCs. There just weren't many (any) good choices when it was time to upgrade. Still aren't, to be honest.

But now, storage giant Western Digital (WD) has unleashed its Sentinel DX4000 small office storage server. It's based on Windows Storage Server 2008 R2, comes in 4 TB and 8 TB variants (with 6 TB and 12 TB versions coming soon), and is reasonably inexpensive ($1000 to $1500 depending on the storage allotment) given what you get. 

And according to the WD web site, that amounts to this:

Plug-and-play installation. The easy set up process allows you to integrate WD Sentinel into your office network like a pro. The administration Dashboard quickly guides you through the process including adding users, setting up data access, creating shared folders and scheduling backups.

Easy maintenance. Adding or replacing one of the pre-installed drives is as easy as changing a light bulb. Just open the door and swap out the drives and WD Sentinel does the rest. It seamlessly migrates the server to the appropriate RAID level and automatically expands the server’s storage capacity. Your users can still access your business data while the drive is being integrated. No data loss. No down time.

Secure remote access. WD Sentinel is perfect for businesses with employees working in satellite or home offices because you have the security of knowing all your business files are safely stored in one place and remote employees can access them from any computer with an Internet connection. WD Sentinel also performs automatic daily backups so all of the files on all the computers in your network are backed up and protected.

Realtime system status through the administration Dashboard. View realtime updates for drive, RAID and network status through WD Sentinel's Dashboard, which includes easy-to-use task wizards to help you set backup schedules, administer user accounts and manage public and private shares.

LCD display panel readily offers critical information. The LCD display panel on the front of the device allows you to monitor the system status and critical alerts.

A total solution with industry-leading technology partners. We combined hardware and software from industry leaders to deliver a reliable, secure and easy-to-manage storage server designed specifically for small office environments. WD Sentinel features:

WD enterprise-class hard drives – Equipped with WD's Enterprise-Class WD RE drives that feature high capacity storage, peak performance and reliability.

Intel Atom processor - Built with the latest Intel Atom dual core processor inside, WD Sentinel DX4000 can easily handle your small business's day-to-day computing and file storage demands.

Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials – WD Sentinel DX4000 uses the tested Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials operating system to provide the cost-effective, reliable and scalable storage solution your small business needs to quickly and efficiently organize, protect and share your critical business data using the familiar Windows user experience.

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Stream digital media anywhere in your network. With the built-in DLNA media server your employees can access any shared media libraries on the network rather than maintaining copies on their individual computers. You can also stream digital content like videos, music or digital signage for employees, vendors or clients using remote web access.

Leading-edge performance. With dual Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, WD Sentinel DX4000 delivers read speeds up to 85 MB/s through the Gigabit Ethernet interface. That's three times faster than most network drives in this category today. For maximum flexibility there are also 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports that allow you to connect additional storage devices and experience up to 5Gb/s transfer rates.

Compatible with multiple operating systems. WD Sentinel includes the Connector software for Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Mac OS X Leopard and Mac OS X Snow Leopard. Support for major network file-system protocols enables cross-platform compatibility and file sharing among Windows, Mac and Unix/Linux operating systems.



Thanks very much to Brett H. for tipping me off to this device.