High sales volume has yet again put Buffalo TechnologyInc. at the top of the network-attached storage distribution market, while higher sales prices kept Network Appliance Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in the top three. The list of top vendors was rounded out by Adaptec Inc.and IBM Corp.
Richard Wright, president of Datatime Consulting, a Narberth, Pa.-based solution provider, said he has found the Buffalo line a good one.
"It's lovely because it's portable," he said. "We've taken their boxes to a number of clients for crisis management. Customers might not have a Tbyte of storage, but instead have 100-Gbyte or 200-Gbyte images. With a Gbit Ethernet interface, we can copy those images immediately to other hardware or plug-and-play storage to restore data."
The only thing really holding Buffalo Tech from reaching into larger customers is the fact that its NAS appliance accept users from Active Directory but not their security permissions, Wright said. "But in a small business environment without the Active Director requirement, they're ideal," he said.
Buffalo's share stems from its focus on home users and small businesses of up to about 250 users, said Erny Mezas, director of sales.
NetApp and HP, on the other hand, focus on small-business to enterprise customers. Their products have an average selling price of three times to six times that of Buffalo, Mezas said. "There's no question we're the volume leader," he said. "So we don't see them as director competitors to us."
However, that could change. Buffalo in January introduced its first rack-mount NAS product with capacities of up to 4 Tbytes, compared to its traditional desktop models with maybe 1 Tbytey. While the line will be available through direct marketers, Mezas said it will be more focused on the solution provider market.
For NetApp, about half of U.S.. sales go through channels, but a significant part is done directly with a handful of solution providers that do not buy through distribution, said Sajai Krishnan, general manager of the small and midsize business unit. Even so, Krishnan said, "We need to broaden our partner reach. Our growth has to be through partners."
HP's strength depends on NAS appliances built on its ProLiant server and All-in-One appliance lines, said Harry Baeverstad, director of entry NAS. About 50 percent of HP's overall U.S. NAS sales go through the channel, but HP is focusing on increasing that with several growth-oriented channel campaigns.