Iomega Defends Turf With Beefier NAS Appliance


Iomega on Thursday unveiled the latest model of its small- and midsize-business NAS appliances, the StorCenter Pro NAS 450r.

The 450r fits up to four hot-swap SATA hard drives in a 1U form factor for a capacity of up to 1 Tbyte or 2 Tbytes, and includes hardware-based RAID, said Tom Kampfer, president and COO of Iomega, San Diego. It uses Microsoft's Windows Storage Server operating system, and includes Nimbus Data Systems' MySAN iSCSI target software.

For Iomega, the 450r represents the top-of-the-line for its NAS appliances, putting the company in a unique position between smaller, unknown NAS vendors and large enterprise storage vendors such as EMC, Network Appliance, and Hewlett-Packard, all of which are targeting the small business space with combination SAN/NAS products starting in the sub-$5,000 range, said Randy Day, president of New Dimensions Management Systems, a Troy, Mich.-based small business solution provider.

The demand for storage is huge and growing, leaving a lot of room for the bigger players, Day said. "But there are also a lot of no-name players, companies that are here today and gone tomorrow, but with low price points," he said. "Customers are looking at them. They're willing to roll the dice as long as the products don't fail."

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Iomega fits in that space very well thanks to its name recognition and its marketing ability, Day said.

"That's the key: How many feet they have on the street, how many mouths are promoting them," he said. "They should do well. But with small- and medium-business products, there's no margins. So the vendors have to offer the right incentives to the resellers to provide the right margins. The winner is going to be the one with the right program. Iomega is doing fair, but no one is doing better."

Kampfer acknowledged the competition, but said his company is unique in its NAS offering in that its products are complete solutions, not just boxes. For instance, he said the NAS appliances included the full version of Computer Associates' eTrust antivirus software, CA's ARCserve tape backup and archiving software, and EMC's Retrospect data protection software.

"We have a lot of credibility in this space," Kampfer said. "We're not entering the small-business space because it's hot. We've been here for five years. Our products are built for small business, and are not repackaged enterprise products."

Going forward, Iomega this year plans to introduce a new line of Linux-based NAS appliances, and expects to bring out Windows Storage Server-based appliances similar to the 450r or its 250d to the sub-$1,000 market, Kampfer said.

The company is also actively working on bringing out a managed services offering to the channel based on its July, 2006 acquisition of CSCI, a San Diego-based managed services provider.

The 450r is currently available. The 1-Tbyte version lists for $3,999, compared to $4,999 for the 2-Tbyte version. A 4-Tbyte version is expected to be available once 1-Tbyte hard drives become available, Kampfer said.