Intel's Storage Push

Intel is poised to make a massive push into storage over the next year with a wide range of NAS, SAN, and JBOD storage appliances for the system builder community.

April 1, 2006

4 Min Read
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Intel is poised to make a massive push into storage over the next year with a wide range of NAS, SAN, and JBOD storage appliances for the system builder community, CRN has learned.

It’s all part of a move by Intel to not only strengthen its storage offerings, but also its presence in the custom-system space, said John Samborski, vice president of system builder Ace Computers, Arlington Heights, Ill.

“Intel is trying to strengthen the channel,” Samborski said. “It’s trying to not be tied to the Hewlett-Packards and the Dells of the world. Dell’s a great Intel customer. But I’m sure Dell is trying to extract some kind of loyalty reward from Intel.”

For many custom-system solution providers, Intel offers them their first opportunity to get into the storage market, Samborski said. “There are a lot of people out there who didn’t do servers before Intel brought out its server line,” he said. “The same thing will happen with storage. Intel is a trusted brand. They have a lot of brand equity. You can’t buy that kind of equity.”

According to a copy of Intel’s storage road map viewed by CRN, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor plans to follow its SSR212MA array, a 2U 12-drive SAN appliance introduced late last year, with a new SMB SAN appliance. Code-named Pyramid Peak, the appliance, expected to be released in the first half of this year, is slated to fit 12 Serial ATA hard drives in a 2U enclosure.Early next year, Intel plans to follow Pyramid Peak with Wilson Peak, which includes room for up to 12 serial-attached SCSI (SAS) hard drives in a 2U enclosure, according to the road map.

On the NAS side, Intel’s recently introduced Entry Storage System SS4000-E four-drive appliance for small businesses and branch offices is expected to be followed up with a new entry-level NAS appliance with two or four hard drives and aimed at SOHO and small-business customers early next year.

Intel also has two JBOD arrays, which do not come with SAN or NAS software, in the pipeline, according to the road map. They include Compass Creek, a 2U enclosure with up to 12 SATA II hard drives, and Petrof Bay, a 1U enclosure with up to eight 2.5-inch SAS and SATA drives. Both are expected to be available in the first half of this year.

Joe Toste, vice president of marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a systems builder in Minneapolis, said Intel has been very aggressive in the storage space by playing on its technical strengths in areas such as Gigabit Ethernet, as well as on its service capabilities.

“For the channel, if Intel can do for storage what it did with its Enterprise Platforms and Services Division servers, they will do well,” Toste said. “They have excellent service, service, service. Intel will provide the best product services, including spares and advanced warranty return. No one else provides that like Intel.”Toste said Intel’s storage focus is on the midrange, not the enterprise, which means the company can help system vendors target the same sweet spot of the market targeted by the tier-one vendors. “This is no different from what EMC has been doing, as it moves downmarket with its Clariion,” he said. “Intel has been very aggressive and will move the market in a significant way.”

Intel executives declined to comment on the details of the company’s storage road map except to say that the vendor does not discuss products that have yet to be released.

Still, storage is a strategic part of Intel’s business, said Seth Bobroff, director of marketing for the company’s storage group. “We’re seeing a huge data explosion being driven by government compliance and other issues,” he said. “Storage is often driving other IT decisions.”

A little over a year ago, Intel restructured itself around a platform focus, bringing together storage elements from its components and embedded operations, including processors, RAID software, and hardware RAID and acceleration technology, Bobroff said.

“Now it’s all been put under one roof, under one management,” Bobroff said. “We have such a broad portfolio of products that a lot of companies don’t realize that Intel silicon is in a majority of storage products today, based on analyst reports.”0

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