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Dell adds entry-level rack mounted Windows-based NAS

Dell expands NAS platform with file server based on Microsoft Windows 2008 Storage Server for companies looking to alleviate the load from their application servers.

Dell Inc. expanded its NAS product line today as part of an SMB product launch, adding an entry-level PowerVault NX300 system based on Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2008.

The NX300 is a 1u, four-drive rack mounted system that supports nearline SAS and SATA drives, and scales to 4 TB. Like all Windows Storage Server 2008-based NAS systems, the NX300 supports single instant storage (SIS) to eliminate duplicate files and a single-namespace distributed file system (DFS).

At around $3,000, the NX3000 is the lowest priced of Dell's NAS products, which include other PowerVault systems as well as the NX4 platform it sells through its partnership with EMC Corp.

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The NX300 does not support the iSCSI target Microsoft offers with Windows Storage Server 2008 for block storage. Larry Hart, Dell manager for storage and networking product, says the NX300 is positioned strictly as a file server to take some of the load off servers running applications. The NX300 uses built-in Windows data protection features such as snapshots and replication.

"It provides relief for application servers," Hart said. "A lot of SMBs run application servers, keep loading them up, turn on file services, and before you know it they have a poorly performing system. Most SMB customers are not backing up their clients, so by having a centralized file server that takes all those files and consolidates them, we can take advantage of snapshotting and replicating tools to back up those critical files."

The NX300 is the second Windows Storage Server 2008 NAS box launched by Dell. It brought out the PowerVault NX3000 in June. The 3000 is a 2u six-drive box that can be used as a gateway to Dell's EqualLogic and EMC Clariion SANs.

The NX300 will compete primarily with the Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks X1000, although the HP X1000 includes iSCSI for multiprotocol support. Both are rack mounted systems.

"Network attached storage is becoming increasingly important to SMBs," said Ray Boggs, IDC's VP of SMB and home office research. "They're looking for storage capacity as well as advanced networking capabilities. And rack mounted systems are becoming increasingly popular among small and midsized companies."


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