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Midrange NAS Gains Functionality

Slowly but surely, the features found in high-end NAS boxes are finding their way to cheaper devices.

Trickle-down theory strikes again. Slowly but surely, the features found in high-end NAS boxes - redundant components, scalability, snapshot and replication - are finding their way to cheaper devices.

"The lines between the high and low-end are definitely blurring," says Brad Nisbet, senior research analyst at IDC.

Take Quantum, which claims 70% market share of the sub $15,000 segment. It recently announced the Guardian 14000, a midrange product which provides 1.4TB of usable capacity in 3U (5.25"), or 20TB in a 6' rack, starting at $24,900.

The Guardian 14000 features redundant, hot-swappable disk drives, power supplies, cooling and multiple RAID levels (5, 1 and 0). It also supports Microsoft Active Directory Service, Unix-centric Network Information Service (NIS), snapshot, SSL v.3, SNMP for integration into network management systems and includes Server-to-Server Synchronization software.

In comparison, a similarly configured F810 filer from Network Appliance costs around $130,000, says Steve Rogers, Quantum vice president of marketing for the networked storage products group.

Compaq, meanwhile, is bolstering its NAS-to-SAN line with the NAS B3000. The unit comes with data replication software from NSI Software, letting customers mirror data off-site. Other add-on packs include packages for backup, anti-virus, virtualization and snapshot.

Storage insiders attribute the falling cost of high-end NAS features to Microsoft's entry into the market with its Server Appliance Kit (SAK) which is used by vendors such as IBM, Compaq, and Dell. Windows-based NAS products are typically priced between two and three cents per megabyte, says Zane Adam, Microsoft's lead product manager for storage. Competitive products are priced in the 12 to 13 cents/MB range, he claims.

Since Microsoft launched the SAK in 2000, Windows NAS products captured about 25% of the market, according to IDC.

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