Very interesting thread! As some others I'm not really keen on the marketing approach chosen by the OP but that's just a side note. It would be really interesting to see some kind of demographic on the actual potential customer base for these kinds of products. What are the typical users of these solutions? For instance do the opinions presented in this thread represent the large masses?
I for one like to be very comprehensive and detailed when making the purchase decision and building the initial setup. But after that the thing should just work nicely and preferably work as is for years. I invest a lot time making things working as smoothly and automatically as possible. So things like adding a new drive to the storage system or adding a new Blu-ray movie to my library should be super-simple, hassle-free operations. And as I have four children and a wife in the same household the end-user interface for all solution must be also very simple, I always use my youngest (6 years now) as the "ultimate" test; if she can watch her favourite movie or tv-recording without additional help, I have reached sufficient level in usability. And from my current situation comes that I have very limited time to be spent on tinkering on these things...
When I was choosing the storage solution back in 2009 I had basically zero experience on different alternatives for home storage, I also did not have any Linux experience. Fortunately I had a friend who had positive experience on UnRAID so I took a closer look and really liked the basic approach; no striping of data, HW-independent, multi-size disk support, little or no Linux experience needed on initial setup etc. Of course I did the setup in a thorough way:.http://lime-technology.com/forum/index.php?topic=3958.0
As some have pointed the needs for a home storage solution are "normally" very different from business needs. For me it's sufficient that I can have a maximum of 2-3 50Mbps+ Blu-ray streams provided to my clients. Anything else is basically peanuts (music, tv-series, dvds etc.). I add new movies to my libraries at a maximum rate of 5 per week and as I have an old Blu-ray drive with max read speed of 15MBps it doesn't really matter in the big picture. All the IOPS-sensitive stuff like media indexing libraries / data bases are running on media server on a SSD drives. Running on a 1Gbps network my UnRaid system can easily saturate it when reading (>80-90MBps) and even the write speeds reach 40-50MBps. So compared to actual needs the performance could be even considered an over-kill. I would expect any decent storage solution / NAS to meet these requirements.
However I would never ever recommend UnRaid to an non-enthusiast user. Making it running smoothly over years has been nothing like plug-and-play. For instance when I added the 10th drive and a new SATA-controller card at the same, I ran into a mysterious repeating parity error problem (see here
). Eventually it turned out to be a faulty Sil3132 sata card which caused random errors when both channels were heavily loaded. I really had to invest a lot of time and all my 20+ year computer experience to solve the problem. To get the most of the UnRAID you really need to take advantage of the user forums and 3rd party plugins. There are companies (like Greenleaf) making pre-built solutions with UnRaid but even those are not suitable (imho) to average users. An non-enthusiast user needs a solution with usability, robustness, simplicity and support in a level comparable to Nintendo Wii.
I would pay considerable amounts of money if I would get the above mentioned features in a true product. Compared to the total cost of my media home (hw, sw, media) the current cost of UnRaid, FlexRAID etc software is almost ridiculous. However I fear that my needs are such a niche that no large enough company will be interested to develop such a product.