Western Digital Enters Small Business Storage Appliance Market


Western Digital on Tuesday unveiled its first branded small business storage appliance, one that targets a part of the storage market served by several of its smaller OEM customers.

The Western Digital WD Sentinel DX4000, the company's first appliance to feature the Windows Storage Server 2008 operating system, is aimed at small businesses with at most 25 users, said Tom Gallivan, vice president of SMB storage solutions.

The DX4000 is powered by an Intel dual-core Atom processor, and comes in 4-TB and 8-TB configurations. It features 2-TB Western Digital enterprise-class hard drives, and includes dual Gbit Ethernet ports and dual USB 3.0 ports. The 4-TB version comes configured for RAID-0, while the 8-TB version comes configured for RAID-5.

Western Digital decided to enter this part of the market in part because of the number of small businesses which are actually depending on consumer-focused NAS appliances to run their operations, Gallivan said.

"We saw these small businesses leveraging consumer-focused solutions, so we thought about what they really need in terms of function and reliability," he said.

Gallivan said that Western Digital, in introducing the DX4000, is not really encroaching on the market of its OEM customers. "Ask Hewlett-Packard, and they'll say small business is under 500 people," he said. "Ask Dell, and you get 25 different answers. We feel our focus on businesses of under 25 people is a natural evolution of our product."

However, when asked about smaller storage vendors targeting the very small business market like Buffalo Technology, Netgear, or Iomega, Gallivan admitted that there might be some overlap.

"I'm sure they're not going to be too excited about this product," he said. "This is a nice product. But there is no clear leader in this space. When we did the market analysis, we felt Western Digital stacked up well."

Gallivan said the DX4000 features enterprise-class RAID edition hard drives, which are among the drives whose production was severely curtailed after last month's massive Thailand floods.

"Fortunately, we positioned inventory, so we are launching the appliance into the channel," he said. "But yes, we are impacted. I might look at some Hitachi drives."

The reference to Hitachi is related to Western Digital's planned $4.3 billion acquisition of Hitachi GST.

The DX4000 comes with a complete suite of software that allows such capabilities as automatic server backups, block-level dedupe, bare metal restore, and restore of files or folders, Gallivan said.

It also has a plug-in for an optional cloud-based backup and recovery offering based on Proxure's KeyVault technology, he said. That cloud-based backup service is slated to launch in mid-December, and will be priced separately. Solution providers who sell the service will be able to participate in an annuity program, he said.

Western Digital is also expanding its WD Select channel program to better support solution providers who sell the DX4000 Sentinel, Gallivan said.

"We understand we need to develop the marketing and training needed to help partners understand this market," he said.

The 4-TB version of the DX4000 Sentinel is priced at $949.99, while the 8-TB version is priced at $1,449.99.