Storage Seeks NAS Appeal

NAS product news follows simplification trend

October 29, 2004

2 Min Read
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The campaign to reach the growing customer base of SMBs and departmental users is on full tilt -- and network attached storage (NAS), typically viewed as simpler to implement than SANs, has taken on new significance.

During this week's Storage Networking World tradeshow, several NAS products got upgrades, and in each case the theme was ease of... [fill in the blank]. Here's a sampling:

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) has revamped its Windows-based NAS product line. The products formerly called HP StorageWorks NAS have been renamed HP ProLiant Storage Server, with model numbers that reflect the ProLiant servers on which they are based.

    "When we told customers that our NAS was a ProLiant server with a NAS system loaded on to it, they said, 'Why don't you just call it that?' " says Jim Hankins, NAS product marketing manager at HP.

    HP also enhanced its iSCSI Feature Pack, which is rumored to be based on technology from FalconStor Software Inc. (Nasdaq: FALC) that outfits the NAS boxes with block-level access to SAN-stored data (see FalconStor's Flyin'). Introduced last month with support for Microsoft Exchange, the pack now supports Oracle 9i and 10g databases and incorporates software called Application Storage Manager to consolidate a variety of block-data management functions on the NAS devices into one interface.

  • Exanet Inc. has a second release of its ExaStore NAS, which the startup claims significantly beefs up performance over the previous version. The system -- a Linux-based distributed file system that runs on dedicated, off-the-shelf Intel Xeon-based servers -- targets environments that need fast, shared file access, such as digital prepress and scientific applications.

    Company spokespeople say the new release will boost the system's attractiveness in the pricey market for high-end NAS. A two-node ExaStore cluster with 10TB of SATA disk typically costs $125,000.

  • Another NAS startup, Isilon Systems, announced a new version of its OneFS distributed file system, which runs on the Isilon IQ series of NAS hardware. Isilon says it has improved data protection by speeding up repairs from failed disks with extensions to its FlexProtect-AP software. The upgraded OS also adds file-level replication with the integration of the company's SyncIQ software, which can be purchased separately for $4,950 per node. OneFS 3.0 will start shipping in new systems in November; upgrades from older versions are free.

These moves reflect a bigger trend in the increasingly competitive NAS field. "Reducing complexity" is becoming the new catchphrase as products seek a broader audience.

Brett Mendel, Senior Analyst, Byte and Switch Insider0

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