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Nexsan DataBeast storage array consolidates SATA, SAS disk storage

With its DataBeast array, Nexsan puts SATA and SAS in one system that can scale up to 336 TB in one 42U rack or to 5 PB with expansion racks.

Nexsan Technologies has rolled out a storage array called DataBeast that consolidates SATA and SAS disk storage and can be expanded to up to 5 PB. Nexsan, which started off selling ATA and then SATA systems for backup, added an Assureon archiving product in 2005 and launched its first SAS system last month. In addition to its support for SATA and SAS disk storage, the DataBeast storage array adds NAS capabilities to Fibre Channel connectivity for file and block storage. Bob Woolery, marketing vice president of Nexsan, said that iSCSI support is planned for a later release.

Available in 25U and 42U configurations, DataBeast scales to 336 TB in one 42U rack and to 5 PB with expansion racks. Nexsan is also including snapshots, thin provisioning, replication and mirroring to the DataBeast along with AutoMAID (Automatic Massive Array of Idle Disks), a policy-based intelligent "green" energy-saving technology that Nexsan has offered since 2005.The DataBeast array offers redundancy, with dual controllers, power supplies, and Fibre Channel and Ethernet switches and ports.

The system isn't built for high-end applications such as OLTP databases, but Woolery said he sees it as a good fit for healthcare records, email, digital media and backup for small enterprises. Depending on configuration, DataBeast will be priced from $1,800 to $2,700 per terabyte.

DataBeast users will also be able to move data between SATA and SAS drives. "Our customers are asking us if they can pull their arrays together into consolidated pools to manage them more efficiently," Woolery said. "And they've looked at storage management software and found it's very expensive."

Woolery said thin provisioning, MAID, snapshots, mirroring, synchronous replication and support for 16 TB volumes are built in, and asynchronous remote replication and 64 TB volume support are available for extra licenses.

IPO in limbo
. Nexsan filed for an IPO in April, hoping to follow storage system vendors 3PAR and Compellent Technologies that went public in 2007. However, since the market for IPOs has all but dried up for now, Nexsan will try to build sales momentum while waiting for the opportunity to go public.

"They are still a long way off from breaking into the tier 1 group of storage vendors, but the company is hoping to join the chasing pack of tier 2 vendors that have crossed the chasm by going public and achieving financial independence," said Simon Robinson, an analyst with The 451 Group.

Robinson said that Nexsan needs to show it is "more than a one-trick pony" that handles fixed content. "Customers are now expecting to see high-value features such as virtualization, thin provisioning and MAID come as standard," he said. "The DataBeast is Nexsan's attempt to deliver on this."

However, Nexsan may have to open the curtains on some of these new features, according to Robinson. Woolery said that Nexsan has developed some of its new management and data protection features and has partnered for other features, but would not say which feature are its own or who the partners are. "It remains to be seen whether the public market will value such a business model as richly as one that is built upon its own IP," Robinson said.

Woolery said he doesn't see that as a big issue among Nexsan customers. "Nexsan has been around long enough that people recognize the name," he said. "They want a turnkey solution."

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