Nexsan To Launch Its First NAS Appliances, Plans Unified SAN-NAS Option


Midrange SAN vendor Nexsan is making its first entry into the NAS market with the unveiling of its new E5000 NAS appliances, which will get unified NAS and SAN capabilities in the near future.

Nexsan plans to officially launch on Tuesday the first two of a planned family of NAS appliances, said CTO Gary Watson.

Nexsan's new NAS family features the easy-to-use software stack found in the company's Fibre Channel and iSCSI SAN products, Watson said.

"We're aiming at the midmarket customer, a company which probably has no dedicated storage staff or whose staff, if it has one, isn't able to spend a lot of time in training classes," he said.

Nexsan's E5000 NAS appliance family is launching in two versions.

The E5110 features a 3U enclosure with 16 drive bays, one of which is reserved for the addition of an optional 100-GB SSD, Watson said. With the addition of the SSD, customers will be able to access Nexsan's FASTier automated tiering solution to speed the performance of the hard drive-based storage capacity, he said.

Customers can expand the capacity of the E5110 by adding a 16-bay JBOD (just a bunch of disks, or non-RAID) appliance, he said.

The E5110 lists for about $15,000 with 8 TBs of raw disk capacity and no FASTier option.

The E5130 can have all 16 of its bays configured for FASTier SSD, including options for DRAM-based SSDs for highest performance or one of two SLC Flash-based SSDs for lower cost, Watson said.

The actual user data for the E5130 resides on other Nexsan storage attached to the NAS appliance, including up to four E18 iSCSI and Fibre Channel arrays and E60 expansion enclosures, Watson said. This gives the E5130 the ability to support up to 240 hard drives with a maximum of 720 TBs of capacity along with up to 1.5 TBs of SSD capacity.

Both the E5110 and E5130 products include Nexsan's AutoMAID technology for spinning individual drives at lower speeds or even turning them off to conserve power, data snapshot and asynchronous data replication, and hot-pluggable storage controllers for redundancy, Watson said.

While the E5000 NAS appliances do not currently support unified SAN/NAS capability from a single device, that capability is coming, Watson said. Nexsan plans in the next few months to offer a firmware update for the E5000 appliances which will provide iSCSI connectivity, with Fibre Channel connectivity slated to be available next year, he said.

That would put the E5000 family in direct competition with other unified SAN/NAS appliances as the Dell EqualLogic FS7500, the Dell Compellent zNAS, NetApp's FAS2050, and EMC's VNX5300, Watson said.

The new E5000 family also features a new easy-to-use GUI (graphical user interface) which lets users thumb through virtual "wheels" which provides a 15-minute setup, he said.

Nexsan's new E5000 line seems like a good fit for the SMB market, said Jeanne Wilson, president of Condor Storage, a Sedona, Ariz.-based solution provider and provider of Nexsan and competitive storage solutions.

"Nexsan has always had good hardware RAID designs," Wilson said. "I'll be talking about Nexsan to customers looking for NAS."

Wilson said it is important that Nexsan add iSCSI connectivity to its NAS appliances for a unified storage offering. "This is a big market," she said. "Customers are asking about it."

Nexsan's E5000 NAS family is currently shipping.