Hard-disk maker Western Digital has announced that it will be leveraging Microsoft's Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials to build a storage server product for small offices. It is evident that Western Digital wants a piece of the fast-growing SMB storage market, but does not feel it cost effective to develop its own platform to take on relatively mature and advanced storage platforms already in existence.
Built on the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials was first announced in November 2010 and was specifically developed to address the storage requirements of small businesses with up to 25 users. Positioned at the lower end of the small businesses tier, Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials offers a simplified setup that promises to do away with the need for an administrator or specialized skills. Among other features, it offers remote Web access, integration with an Active Directory domain, and a management dashboard to oversee and manage the health status of the server and client computers - a rather impressive package overall.
Where Western Digital is concerned, Thomas Gallivan, the company's VP for SMB branded product marketing, was reported by The Register as saying:
WD will offer storage solutions for small business that provides centralised, online shared storage capable of meeting the storage requirements of the small business owners in today's fast paced business environment.
Details on the ground are thin at the moment, though a brief report on Storage Review speculated that the new NAS from Western Digital will be a "4-6 bay unit along the lines of competitive offerings from Synology, Netgear and others."
A cursory examination of recently announced NAS offerings from vendors such as Iomega, Promise Technology and Synology reveals that this market segment is indeed one that has been hotly contested. A five-bay NAS equipped with 2TB hard-disk drives, for example, offers close to 8TB of protected storage when used with advanced redundancy schemes. This appears to offer a reasonable amount of storage capacity for smaller offices or branch offices.
In the event that you are currently pondering a good NAS for your small- and mid-sized business, you might want to take a quick look at my recent post, called "Overcoming the Network Bottleneck to Your NAS." In the post, I outline how some judicious selection of NAS appliances will make it possible to almost double the network performance of your storage investment should you require higher performance down the road.