NEC Plans US Storage Push

Japanese vendor clinches OEM deal with RAID Inc. and reveals its SAN roadmap

July 8, 2008

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

NEC ramped up its efforts to sell its storage in the U.S. today, announcing an OEM deal with RAID Inc. and revealing plans to bring high-end SAN systems to the American market later this year.

We have been building storage for nearly 15 years, [but] for the most part, we have been selling it into the Japanese market,” says Karen Dutch, NEC’s vice president of advanced storage products.

NEC first got into the U.S. storage market about two years ago, selling its 144-Tbyte D3 SAN device through video and broadcast OEMs, although the vendor is now looking to push the technology into the lucrative federal and supercomputing sectors.

Under the terms of today’s agreement, RAID will rebrand the entire D-Series under its Xanadu product line. “Initially, the focus is HPC and the government space,” says Dutch, adding that the D3 will continue to be sold as an NEC-branded offering.

Later this year RAID will also serve as NEC’s U.S. launch-pad for its 1.5-Pbyte D8 device, which is currently only sold in Japan.“We will be introducing that into the [U.S] market in the fall -- there were a couple of features that we wanted to add to the product for the U.S market,” says Dutch, but she would not reveal what these are. “It will be sold as an OEM through RAID, and we will be selling it as an NEC-branded product as well.”

Whereas NEC’s D3 competes with Xyratex’s RAID family and EMC’s low-end Clariion CX-3 offerings, the D8 will be up against DataDirect’s S2A9550 and 9900 and Xiotech’s recently launched Emprise 7000.

The D8 may have its work cut out at the high end of the U.S. SAN market, where NASA is an established DataDirect customer and Xiotech is touting its Emprise systems’ Intelligent Storage Element (ISE) technology as a high-performance alternative to traditional RAID controllers.

Xiotech, for example, has already been awarded a contract by The Cooperative Purchasing Network, which will sell the Emprise systems to U.S. government agencies, and recently announced the systems’ first two enterprise customers -- Argus Information & Advisory Services and Forbes Energy Services.

Undeterred, NEC says that it has already gained a foothold in the U.S. market for its D-Series family thanks to its existing OEM deals in the broadcast and video editing industries.“We have 2,500 systems in the broadcast industry alone,” says Dutch, explaining that NEC and RAID are already eyeing some “huge, Petabyte-size opportunities.”

”We have an order teed-up for more than a Petabyte," notes Bob Picardi, RAID’s COO. “We signed the deal a few weeks ago.”

The exec explained that one of RAID’s government agency customers had asked the vendor to help it solve a major drive failure problem, which prompted today’s OEM deal with NEC.

”It was [to do] with the inability of the [agency’s existing] RAID controller to pick up all the data that was written to the drives. Our mandate was to go out and find a solution,” he says, adding that NEC uses its Phoenix technology to identify failing drives.

At least one analyst thinks that RAID could offer NEC a good route into the U.S. storage market but warns that there is plenty of work to do before the vendor really establishes its presence.”The biggest hurdle, I think, is just them being known in the storage business as an array vendor,” says John Webster, senior analyst at Illuminata. ”That does take time, although they have the Hydrastor [grid storage device] out there that is making a name for NEC storage.”

RAID’s rebranded NEC D3 offerings are available now, with pricing from under $1 per Gbyte, depending on the configuration.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • DataDirect Networks Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Illuminata Inc.

  • NEC USA Inc.

  • Raid Inc.

  • Xiotech Corp.

  • Xyratex Ltd.

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights