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Vendor Metamorphosis, Or Resurrection?

Back in July, I was skeptical that longtime tape automation vendors Tandberg Data and Overland Storage would successfully transit the tempest that is the SMB storage market in the recession. Both are announcing products and road maps that fit their SMB customers better, and Overland has both managed to raise another $12 million and hire Geoff Barrall to be their CTO, which could keep them around long enough to deliver on the vision. MAID pioneer Copan wasn't so lucky, however.

The core of Overland's vision is to make the transition from collecting 80 percent of revenue from HP's OEM tape automation sales to resurrecting the once incredibly valuable SnapServer brand. Their new CEO, Eric Kelly, has an attachment to Snap, having been part of the team that bought it from Quantum for $10 million and sold it to Adaptec for $100 million, now bringing it to Overland for $3 million. As often as Snap's been bought and sold, a guy could make a good living just being their investment banker. Kelly's made some good decisions at Overland, killing off their Ultamus SAN array being at the top of my list.

I had lunch with Eric and Overland's marketing and sales VP Jillian Mansolf a couple of weeks ago, and they get that the keys to the SMB market are making things easy to use and developing channel loyalty. This is, by the way, a model that the pre-Dell Equallogic executed very well.

Now they've added Barrall, who founded BlueArc, which makes high-speed NAS devices. Barrall also founded Data Robotics, which makes the Drobo NAS, and he developed the "Beyond RAID" technology that allows a NAS to use different sized disks in a RAID array. Barrall clearly understands how to make a successful NAS company, so I won't count Overland among the walking wounded just yet.

The new S2000 iSCSI array isn't just a re-package of the iSCSI target Snap servers have had for years. They've re-written both the iSCSI target to make it faster, and the user interface, replacing the web GUI with Windows plug-ins that greatly simplify provisioning. They've also added a vCenter plugin and high availability for VMware via replication and failover. With SAS and SATA options and expandability to 120TB via SAS JBODs, S2000 is competitive with other entry-level SAN arrays like HP's MSA and Dell Equallogic and is probably a step up form EMC's AX.

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