Maxtor Corporation has announced what it says is the industry's highest capacity workgroup-class storage server, the 640G Byte MaxAttach NAS 4300 (also available in a 480G Byte configuration). According to Maxtor, these 1U-high models are enhancements to the original NAS 4300 that began shipping in July 2001.
They are targeted toward small- to medium-sized businesses and enterprise workgroup/department environments. The company claims the devices are intended for use in file sharing, high-speed data backup and restoration, email archive purposes and server consolidation. Maxtor also says the products are part of the firm's goal of technology leadership for network-attached storage solutions.
Promotion aside, analysts seem to be somewhat underwhelmed by this particular development. Arun Taneja, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group, Inc., Milford, Mass., says the most noteworthy aspect of the news is that one can now purchase a NAS box with "pretty decent capability" for less than 1 cent per megabyte ($4,499 for the 480G Byte version). "One couldn't even think of buying simple disk drives for this low price per megabyte a year ago, he says.
Taneja notes the key point with NAS is that it will likely become the choice of all enterprises, big and small, for file sharing and other file-oriented applications. "There is no reason not to consider NAS anymore, regardless of how big or small an organization is," he says.
Similarly, Dick Bannister, an analyst with Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Evaluator Group, Inc., downplays this latest Maxtor accomplishment from a technical standpoint. However, he continues. "What is significant is that a very low-end supplier (Maxtor) is trying to move up the food chain with more functionality to compete with systems that have served that market in the past."
Bannister points out that Quantum and now Maxtor are both targeting a more competitive market segment -- rather than the low-end market where they began -- at least as far as what features they require.
The reason, he says, is simply that larger capacity configurations provide better margins. In the case of Maxtor, primarily a disk drive manufacturer, the company has an opportunity to generate particularly strong margins on such a NAS product, as compared to companies like NetworkAppliance, Inc., which has to buy the drives from others.
Longer term, Bannister maintains that Maxtor's distribution and support channels, which currently operate through many resellers (and via mail order), may need strengthening to meet more rigorous, enterprise-style requirements.
About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer residing in Franklin, Mass.