Storage vendor Nexsan says that the latest member of its E series network-attached storage (NAS) system offers new levels of storage density and power efficiency for virtual operating environments with FASTier, which delivers solid-state disk (SSD)-based cache for virtualized computing environments such as VMware, Xen and Hyper-V. Consisting of five members, the E5000 series is very dense (up to 180 Tbytes in a 4U rack), affordable (ranging from $15,000 to more than $420,000) and efficient (up to 85% reduction in power requirements).
The company first unveiled the E series in March, seeking to expand from its second-tier backup storage base in the midmarket to primary storage. The new offering included centralized storage management software for simplified deployment, management and support, and offered a complete range of enterprise-class features, including high density, high reliability, low power operation and small space consumption. But the key to the E series was not so much its technical or functional attributes as the lower costs it offers, both operational and capital.
Nexsan is targeting the capacity optimized storage market, a segment worth $7.6 billion last year and expected to more than double to $16.8 billion by 2014, according to IDC (I2014 Forecast Update: December 2010). In addition to FASTier, high density and the company's power-saving technology (AutoMAID), the E series can be deployed in as little as 15 minutes.
This is a significant development, bringing Nexsan's reputation for highly reliable and affordable storage systems to the NAS market, says George Crump, lead analyst, Storage Switzerland. "While Nexsan has had OEM relationships before, they have not had a turnkey solution like the E5000. FASTier could be a game changer, as well. The combination of DRAM and SLC Flash is ideal for the mixed workloads that NAS supports. The rest of the software, while not revolutionary, is on par with the rest of the NAS competitors."
Crump believes this announcement raises the bar on what an affordable NAS solution should cost. "Nexsan is a known entity, with a reputation for reliability, and they have a NAS product now that is not lacking when compared to others. FASTier, especially in virtualized infrastructures, could be a significant differentiator."
While the Enterprise Strategy Group has not tested the product, it appears to be surprisingly mature and well-thought-out for a first generation product, says senior analyst Terri McClure. "Nexsan’s storage experience is showing--it has a well-rounded feature set and price performance well-suited to its target market. And the management interface is truly unique and intuitive--it reflects the 'consumerization of IT' in that it looks like something I’d find on my home system and could just scroll through and understand."
However, McClure cautions, because this is a first-generation product, Nexsan will have to provide the proof points that it works as advertised and is indeed as easy to use as it appears. McClure says that even though this is a new product, it is a pretty safe bet for storage solution providers because they know Nexsan and that it prides itself on quality products and a positive channel experience.
Another key point, says McClure, is that, in this segment, a lot of managers are IT generalists, so it can’t be complex or difficult to manage the storage environment. "Users are looking to reduce operational costs as well as capital costs."
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