Dell offers low-end NAS devices for Windows shops

Dell has announced a line of low-end NAS devices that is expected to attract shops that use the Windows-based platform, an arena where Dell is already deeply rooted.

Fans of the Dell brand will soon have a new set of products to consider when looking for network-attached storage (NAS) hardware, including an entry-level appliance and some speedier midrange systems with more storage capacity.

More important, Dell Computer Corp. has designed its NAS offerings on the Microsoft Windows operating platform, which will attract customers in the growing Windows NAS market.

Dan Tanner, a senior analyst with the Boston-based Aberdeen Group, said that Dell is going to continue to drive down storage costs for those heavily involved in Windows-based systems and CIFS environments.

The Round Rock, Texas, company's biggest advantage in the NAS market may be that it has standardized its systems on the Windows Server Appliance Kit, which is based on the Windows 2000 Advanced Server operating platform.

Tanner said that Microsoft's appliance operating kits generate a lot of business because they can be used for NAS, print servers or any appliance that runs on the Windows platform.

"Server Appliance Kit network-attached storage is always going to be very popular with Windows users, so I believe that's going to be a real growth area," Tanner said.

Research by Framingham, Mass.-based International Data Corp. shows that the user base for Windows-powered NAS appliance servers has already increased nearly 32% in just over a year and a half, and that momentum is expected to continue.

The new addition to the Dell NAS family is the PowerVault 725N, which is based on Intel Pentium 4 processors and ServerWorks' Grand Champion SL core logic technology.

Marc Padovani, a Dell product manager, said the 725N features a PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect Extended) bus slot, which can boost data transfer rates within a computer from 66 MHz to 133 MHz. PCI-X doubles the speed and amount of data exchanged between the computer processor and peripherals. The 725N also supports up to 3G bytes of DDR SDRAM and dual-gigabit ports for load-balancing and failover capabilities. It can also serve as a backup server for a network that uses Veritas' Backup Exec software.

Intel's chips have made their way into Dell's other NAS offerings as well. The PowerVault 770N and 775N systems are now running Intel's Xeon processors with the Windows operating system and can scale up to 17T bytes with the addition of SCSI drives, or up to 40T bytes by connecting to Dell/EMC storage hardware as a direct-attached array or through a storage area network (SAN).

Dell isn't the only kid on the block to speed its NAS boxes with Xeon processors. Last week, IBM doubled the processing power of the TotalStorage NAS 200 by using 2.4 GHz Intel Xeon processors. Big Blue added 146.8G byte hard drives to its NAS 200 for 7T bytes of total storage capacity and added TCP/IP offload engines (TOEs) to accelerate IP storage traffic going to and from the NAS systems.

The 725N, 770N and 775N have will be included in Dell's Premier Enterprise Support and Deployment package of services, which is offered for the company's new NAS products. Users have access to dedicated technical account managers, engineer-to-engineer remote support, advanced PowerVault remote software support, and on-site hardware installation, which is provided by Dell's professional services group.

The PowerVault 725N will begin shipping this month for $1,799. The 2U PowerVault 775N and 5U PowerVault 770N for both rack and tower environments are available starting at $4,999.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

IBM overhauls NAS, storage arrays

Quantum revisits spin-off idea, creates Snap Appliance Inc.

Use of Windows powered NAS grows, says report

Let us know what you think of this story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer
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