Storage for the Consumer

Don't be fooled by storage vendors' stealth mode at CES: Their eyes are on the enterprise

January 9, 2007

4 Min Read
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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is rife with products delivering networked storage for consumers, and a good chunk of it looks like a safe bet to eventually move into the enterprise.

Product introductions at the Las Vegas show include a new IP-SAN platform, a 1-Tbyte hard drive, products for managing digital content across networked devices, and security for optical storage:

  • Zetera unveiled a new platform that makes it easier for partners to scale systems up to 12 bays by plugging multiple cards into a chassis. (See Zetera Breaks Out New Platform.) The new platform is built on Marvell's Orion system on a chip (SOIC) that supports SATA-2 drives, and also supports PCI Express. Zetera also says it its Z-SAN technology will support computers running the Mac OS X operating system around the middle of the year. Zetera currently only supports Windows.

  • Hitach Global Storage Technologies (HGST) said it will start shipping 1-Tbyte hard drives to retail customers this quarter. (See HGST Drives to 1-Tbyte Disk, Short Ride to 1-Tbyte Drives and Dawn of the Tbyte Hard Drive.)

  • Seagate launched several storage products that go beyond hard drives, including FreeAgent Pro, a pocket-sized device ranging from 80 Gbytes to 750 Gbytes with software that lets users transfer and synchronize files across PCs. (See Seagate Targets Digital Content.) It also includes a service giving users access to online storage. The device's software tracks passwords, email, and other system settings.

Seagate also unveiled Storage Management Module (SMM) software that supports chipsets from Marvell, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments used for mobile phones, IPTV set-top boxes, personal media players, and other devices. SMM includes a power manager that saves battery life by reducing the time the drive spends in active mode, integrated flash manager for solid state memory, and a proprietary file system.

  • Axentra launched HipServ software for managing, backing up and sharing digital content across home networked devices. HipServ will be sold through OEMs and service providers.

  • Nero announced SecurDisc, which provides password protection to optical media and will be sold by LG Electronics as part of a DVD rewriter product. (See Nero's SecurDisc Debuts.)

As for enterprise candidates, 1-Tbyte SATA drives are certain to find their way into SANs later this year. Zetera is also determined to move its non-standard IP-SAN platform beyond the consumer market into the enterprise, but that will take time.

The new platform did win Zetera two new partner deals. NetGear, the first to sign on with Zetera, says it will deliver a system that can be networked based on Zetera's Z-SAN technology to go with the single-box it already sells. Also, Choiceway Technologies of China will use Zetera for systems targeting industrial, surveillance, mapping, and government verticals under the Vicount brand name. (See Choiceway to Sell Zetera.)Ryan Malone, Zetera's VP of partner development, says the startup's strategy is to creep into the enterprise by winning a beachhead with consumers and smaller businesses first. Malone says Zetera's partners have shipped more than 120,000 systems based on its technbology. Most of those have been sold by NetGear and Bell Micro. (See Netgear Ships IP SAN and Bell Intros Z-SAN Family.)

"Our goal is to be a de facto standard, and you get there by shipping a lot of units," he says.

Malone says the first iteration of the systems based on Zetera's new platform will be for small business and branch offices of larger companies. "We'll continue working our way up the food chain," he explains.

Zetera's next generation still uses a proprietary application protocol over the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), instead of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) that is used for iSCSI. (See Zetera Rewrites iSCSI.) Zetera systems are considered a low-cost alternative to iSCSI, which is a low-cost alternative to Fibre Channel.

"Where cost is an issue they will have something to contribute," Enterprise Management Associates analyst Mike Karp says of Zetera. "The challenge is that any non-standard approach takes some getting used to at the enterprise level. It takes a whole lot of convincing."Malone hopes Zetera's approach can gain acceptance through wide implementation rather than going before any standards body.

"We could've gone to a storage standards group and said, 'Here's this great protocol and we think its going to be superior to what you've guys have invested a lot of money in, can you ratify it so we can compete with you?' " Malone says. "The big guys have lot invested in Fibre Channel and iSCSI. We thought best approach would be to sell a lot first."

Dave Raffo, News Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Axentra Corp.

  • Bell Microproducts (Nasdaq: BELM)

  • Choiceway Technologies

  • Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST)

  • LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS)

  • Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL)

  • Nero Inc.

  • Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR)

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)

  • STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE: STM)

  • Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN)

  • Zetera Corp.

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