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Cisco launches NSS 300 Series SMB multiprotocol storage platform

Cisco's multiprotocol NSS 300 Series Smart Storage line replaces the NSS 2000 and 3000 NAS boxes launched last year; product launch raises questions about Cisco's long-range storage plans.

Cisco Systems Inc. today rolled out a line of multiprotocol storage systems for companies with fewer than 100 employees dubbed the NSS 300 Series Smart Series Storage.

The new platform replaces the NSS 2000 and 3000 series Cisco launched last year. The Series Smart Storage platform includes three models with two-, four- and six-drive bays, which can support 2 TB SATA drives for a maximum capacity of 12 TB. List prices range from $913 for the smallest model with no drives to $5,625 for a fully configured six-bay model with 12 TB.

The products are based on hardware and software from QNAP Systems Inc. Software features include integrated Web server and WordPress publishing applications, as well as a RADIUS server for security and authentication. The product supports NAS and iSCSI, and Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Last year's Cisco NAS-only models were targeted for backing up files on PCs and servers and storing digital files such as video from IP surveillance cameras.

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Cisco vice president and general manager of the small business technology group David Tucker said Cisco has competitors like Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. and NetGear Inc. in mind with the NSS 300 series. Cisco is also looking to be disruptive in an increasingly crowded small- to medium-sized business (SMB) storage hardware market with its pricing, which comes in below its stated competitors' 12 TB list prices. EMC Corp.'s Iomega ix12-300r starts at $5,000 for 4 TB capacity. Amazon puts the list price of a 12 TB NetGear ReadyNAS RNDP6620 Business Edition at $6,250. According to Google Products, the HP StorageWorks All-in-One Storage System 1200r is priced at more than $13,000 for a 12 TB configuration.

Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala said he's surprised Cisco makes no mention of VMware integration with the NSS 300. And the increase in capacity, operating system and protocol support with the NSS 300 makes Kerravala wonder about Cisco's plans in the storage market. "It seems like kind of a weird market for Cisco to be in. If they get bigger than this, they start encroaching on EMC and NetApp territory," he said.

With products like the UCS server and vBlock, launched last year through a partnership with EMC and VMware, "it appears Cisco wants to start providing all IT infrastructure," Kerravala said. "It's interesting to see the markets they're moving into."

It seems like a long shot that Cisco would start developing its own midmarket and enterprise storage products, but, said Kerravala, "I never thought there'd be a Cisco server either."

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