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NetGear ups ante in SMB network-attached storage market with ReadyNAS 2100

NetGear is the latest data storage vendor to come out with a new rackmount network-attached storage (NAS) product for SMBs, which is becoming a crowded market.

NetGear Inc. is taking its ReadyNAS platform upmarket a bit with the more resilient, higher performance rackmount ReadyNAS 2100, and the new ReadyNAS Remote feature for offsite access on all ReadyNAS systems.

The ReadyNAS 2100 is the largest and fastest ReadyNAS, due to a new Intel chipset and 1 GB of RAM. NetGear claims the 2100 is twice as fast as its previous rackmount version, the ReadyNAS 1100. To appeal to more mission-critical, business-oriented data storage buyers, the rackmount devices have an "exchange module" that contains power supplies, fans and motherboards and can be removed as a unit for servicing.

The ReadyNAS Remote software lets customers access and manage ReadyNAS systems remotely through a Web interface without requiring VPN or FTP access. NetGear added ReadyNAS Remote though a partnership with cloud vendor Leaf Networks LLC, which performs secure peer-to-peer encryption tunnels for ReadyNAS users in the cloud. NetGear also has a partnership to provide cloud backup for ReadyNAS customers with ElephantDrive Inc.

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Matt Rogish, CTO for the J. Peterman Company, already uses a 6 TB desktop form-factor ReadyNAS Pro for primary data storage and backs up to a ReadyNAS 1100. He said he plans to install a 2100 as a replication target for virtual machine data, currently attached to an IBM server running DataCore Software's SANmelody storage virtualization software.

J. Peterman also used a Dell server with direct-attached storage (DAS) and a software iSCSI target to make it shareable. The hardware was five years old and failing when the company replaced it with ReadyNAS Pro last year. By that point, Rogish said he'd tried "do-it-yourself" iSCSI storage with software targets, and had enough. Many of these products are based on the Windows operating system, and Rogish said, "I'm tired of having to reboot [storage] when I have to apply a patch."

ReadyNAS was also the least expensive among the products Rogish looked at, which also included the NetApp Inc. S550 (now off the market), and the NetApp FAS2000 series, which Rogish said was priced at $20,000. ReadyNAS, by contrast, was about $3,800. "We just bought it off of Amazon," he said.

Enterprise storage vendors trying to crack SMB market

Enterprise storage vendors such as NetApp and rival EMC Corp. have been trying to crack the SMB market for years, but early attempts at products for small companies were too expensive and complex. So far this year, however, another wave of products has hit the streets in an attempt to capture this market, including EMC's Iomega StorCenter ix4 product, Fabrik Inc. systems that were acquired by Hitachi GST, and Seagate Technology's BlackArmor NAS.

NetGear is claiming that its "drag-and-drop" remote access is a differentiator against competitors, especially Iomega, which requires a VPN client for remote access.

"This is becoming a heavily contested space," IDC analyst Benjamin Woo said. "It's tough to say who NetGear's top competitor will be. Whoever wins needs much greater mindshare to become critical in users' infrastructures."

Rogish said he made his decision because ReadyNAS Pro offers built-in RAID 6 data protection, and would like to see the vendor add more redundancy to the box. "We'd like to see redundant power supplies," he said.

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