IP SANs -- 3ware's NSU first out of the gate?

With the introduction of two cutting-edge storage devices in less than two months, it appears that storage solutions provider, 3Ware Inc. is on its way to being the front-runner in the emerging IP-based network storage market.

In early December, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company began shipping its first TCP/IP-based SAN product offering, the Network Storage Unit (NSU). According to the company, the NSU is said to extend the reach of Gigabit Ethernet into SAN applications by way of an integrated, direct-connect RAID storage device.

The company also introduced during last week's MACWORLD event in San Francisco, its foray into the Apple Macintosh storage space, again with the NSU -- billed as the first Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) storage area network (SAN) solution available for Apple Macintosh environments.

These back-to-back announcements could have a huge impact on the future of the IP-based network storage market.

"We'll be able to quickly prove what works and what doesn't about IP storage," said 3ware's President and CEO John R. "Beau" Vrolyk. "We're actually shipping something. The rest of our competitors are just talking about it."

Using existing TCP/IP Ethernet lines, the latest Macintosh-flavored NSU provides a choice of either 240 G Bytes or 600 G Bytes of additional storage space that can be attached to individual Macintosh machines or existing GbE networks in minutes. The NSU is said to provide the capability to handle up to 48 hours of continuous video streaming.

At an entry price of about $15,000 for 240 G Bytes of storage space, 3ware is banking on widespread market acceptance of the NSU among creative Macintosh professionals involved in graphics design, advertising, and video/movie creation and manipulation. "We're about to see a massive explosion in the Macintosh market. We'll also see a predecessor in the way storage will be used," said Vrolyk.

According to some storage industry analysts, Vrolyk may not be too far off the mark. "3ware sits alone in a new space, the iSCSI array market," said Steve Duplessie, senior analyst and founder of the Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group. "The reason this is compelling to Apple customers is the ease and inexpensive mechanism for creating a storage network and sharing data. Perfectly situated to smaller share environments, the 3ware solution gives the video market everything it needs - performance, availability, connectivity, all in an inexpensive scaleable product. You can expect that the NT and UNIX mid-tier space will be equally accepting."

Vrolyk knows the storage needs of heavy Macintosh storage users -- like video technicians -- will also grow exponentially. "These types of users will need to manipulate a terabyte of video on their workstations daily this year," he said. For example, someone working at an online news service might need to routinely insert a 30 to 45-second video clip quickly in an online story. "But, that clip is buried in 5 terabytes of video," said Vrolyk, requiring the technician to wade through a huge volume of video before arriving at the correct video clip.

3ware aims to fill this need, by allowing Mac users to quickly add storage where they need it most: close to the user who has to access and manipulate the data. Vrolyk claims that Mac-based departments and workgroups can use the NSU in much the same way they operate right now. "Multiple people can read the information, but only one person has write capabilities to it," he said. "Physical boxes like 3ware's NSU will be attached to people's individual workstations, promoting a shift from centralized control and more towards distributed locations of storage."

For more information

3Ware's Product Home Page

searchStorage's Best Web Links on SANs and IP-based Storage

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Michele Hope, Site Editor

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