Hitachi Data Systems has become the latest tier-one storage vendor to test the small and midsize business market with a sub-$5,000 storage array.
The company's new Hitachi Simple Modular Storage Model 100 is a family of entry-level storage arrays aimed at offering smaller businesses enterprise-class data protection, said Mike Walkey, senior vice president of HDS's global volume channels.
HDS follows its enterprise storage rival and enterprise storage partner Hewlett-Packard, which in September of last year unveiled its sub-$5,000 All-in-One storage array.
Earlier that year, Network Appliance also entered the small and midsize storage market with its StoreVault S500, while prior to that EMC did the same with its Clariion AX150 array.
The SMS 100 is targeting two types of customers, Walkey said. The first is the stand-alone small and midsize enterprise, which he said typically has 25 to 500 seats but little IT experience. The second target is the branch office of a larger company that has the same issues as the small and midsize enterprise.
"Both need something simple to install and manage, and which needs no service," Walkey said. "Many of these companies use Microsoft operating systems and Symantec backup software. And they need something as simple to install as a home network."
The SMS 100 offers that simplicity, Walkey said. Installation is just a matter of unpacking the box, connecting the data ports and the management port, connecting power, and starting the GUI, he said. "When you start the GUI, it comes up with a list of easy steps," he said. "A half-dozen clicks and three wizards later, and the product is up and running."
The array includes auto migration, which allows users and solution providers to upgrade to a higher capacity array by just installing the new box, connecting it to the old box with a cable, and do a couple clicks. "The data migrates, and when you click again, the data on the old unit is automatically shredded," he said.
Capacity of a single array ranges from 1 Tbyte using SAS-only hard drives to about 9 Tbytes using SATA-only hard drives, or in between using a mix of the two technologies, Walkey said.
The SMS 100 also includes two patent-pending disk repair slots, he said.
"If users see an error on a hard drive, they can go on-line and enter a code, and we will send them a new hard drive," he said. "The customer just takes the drive out of the box, opens the front panel of the array, plugs in the new hard drive, and he's done. We include RAID 6, so there's no need to power the unit down or take out the old hard drive."
The SMS 100 has two repair slots. Walkey said that if a third drive fails, HDS will send a new box with the cable to auto migrate the data to the new box."
Because over three-fourths of customers in the target market use Microsoft operating systems, the SMS 100 is Windows-optimized, including Microsoft Simple SAN certification, support for Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk Service (VDS), and support for Symantec Backup Exec, Walkey said.
Joe Kadlec, vice president and senior partner at Consiliant Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based storage solution provider, said the SMS 100 is a really good fit for remote offices who typically have been depending on second-tier storage vendors for data protection.
"Customers will get better reliability with Hitachi," Kadlec said. "Hitachi is running RAID 6, so they get better uptime. And the SMS 100 has the same look and feel of other Hitachi products, so admins don't have to learn new products."
By making replication software an option, HDS has managed to keep the price low for customers who don't need the extras while make it possible for them t get the advanced features at a low price, Kadlec said.
"We see companies like EqualLogic bundle in all that software," he said. "And their price-per-Mbyte reflects that. But not all customers need the extra software. With Hitachi, they pay for it only if they need it."
The SMS 100 is a very channel-friendly product, and is available through such distributors as Ingram Micro, Avnet, Arrow, and Bell Micro, Walkey said. The arrays are also being resold through Lenovo, IBM, and Acer through their own channel partners, he said.
There will also be a small part of the business going direct. "We believe the vast majority will go through the channel," Walkey said. "But there are certain accounts where we have the corporate relationship. But we are comp-neutral."
The SMS 100 will be available for shipment in three to four weeks, Walkey said. The entry price ranges from just under $5,000 with 3 Tbytes of SATA drives and one controller to $15,000 with 3.6 Tbytes of SAS drives with a dual-controller, he said. The capacity is fixed when ordered, so upgrades in capacity require the purchase of additional units.