One of the reasons the IT industry has largely avoided the depths of the recent recession like other sectors of the economy is the sheer diversity of systems and solutions out there. For every large vendor, there are usually dozens of smaller firms either finding niche markets for highly tailored systems or providing broad-based solutions more economically and with less hassle.
Storage is a prime example. Top dogs like EMC and HP make comfortable livings filling the channel with commodity products and catering to the Fortune 500 set with integrated solutions and massively scale up/out architectures. However, the market is rife with smaller firms that have proven to be highly adept at targeting opportunities with innovative solutions.
NetGear, for one, has set its sights on the enterprise by utilizing its know-how in SOHO storage and networking into what it describes as a simplified unified storage solution for SMBs and mid-market organizations. The ReadyData 5200 does away with what the company says is man-made complexity in storage network environments. It scales up to 180 TB and offers advanced features like thin provisioning, unlimited snapshots and data deduplication and compression, all controlled through a simple, Web-based UI. Configurations range from $10,000 to $15,000.
Overland Storage is also coming out with a new enterprise-class product line, the SnapSAN 3000 and 5000 storage arrays that scale up to 288 TB and support anywhere from RAID 0 to 60 under the company's RAID Triple Mirror redundancy system. The units provide tools like thin provisioning, volume cloning and power-down management, while the 5000 also adds things like AutoTier, AutoCache, AutoTune and a range of compliance features. Pricing starts at $12,999 for the 3000 and $16,999 for the 5000.
At the same time, smaller storage vendors are tapping the cloud to enable volume management and capacity scaling that would otherwise be out of reach. Nasuni, for one, has tailored its cloud-ready Unified Storage solution for remote and branch office operations, where it can often replace multiple hardware platforms designed for block-and-file storage. The system features advanced synchronization for shared access across multiple sites, as well a centralized management and integrated virus protection. The latest generation of Nasuni appliances have been bumped up with dual processors and double the RAM, allowing it to handle three times the workload of earlier models.
Meanwhile, data management firm Sanbolic has teamed up with cloud storage provider Zadara to provide a high-availability solution for SQL Server and other business-critical applications using Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Hosting clouds. The pact unites the Zadara Virtual Private Storage Array (VSPA) with Sanbolic's Melio management stack to enable a unified data environment across internal and external infrastructure. Sanbolic recently added cloud functionality to the Melio AppCluster to allow for public/private/hybrid support for SQL Server workloads.
Smaller enterprises have grown used to the fact that most IT equipment is designed for large organizations, and then stripped of features and capacity in order to meet smaller budgets. This may work for processing and networking because pricing usually scales pretty evenly with the size of the deployment. Storage is unique, however, in that smaller firms tend to generate quite a lot of data and the need for robust management techniques and highly dynamic environments is still strong.
If provisioning new storage has become a routine call to your existing vendor or channel supplier for more of the same, perhaps it's time to do a little shopping around.