Storage's Sweet Spot

While EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance make moves from their enterprise-class roots down into the midrange, smaller players such as Snap Appliance are moving in the opposite direction,upward to the middle tier from the entry-level arena.

Whereas enterprises place emphasis on mission-critical applications, midsize businesses are looking to increase capacity without the expense, said Brad Wenzel, president and CEO of Wenzel Data, a Stillwater, Minn., storage solution provider.

"E-mail, compliance, regulatory data,these are all applications of concern to the midrange, but they aren't mission-critical," Wenzel said. "If someone needs an e-mail restored, he really needs it right now. But for these companies, if the e-mail system goes down, it's not like the failure of an enterprise online transaction processing system. Midrange customers don't need to buy fault-tolerant systems."

Snap recently introduced the Snap Disk 10, a 1U 1-Tbyte rack-mount NAS appliance that expands the capacity of its Snap Server 4500. Up to two Snap Disk 10s can be connected to a 4500, said Jim Sherhart, product manager at Snap, San Jose, Calif.

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Network Appliance debuted the FAS250 NAS, which scales to 1 Tbyte in a 3U rack-mount enclosure and supports iSCSI connectivity. Prices start at about $10,000, said Suresh Vasuvedevan, director of software product marketing at Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Network Appliance.

Also new are the FAS270, which scales to 4 Tbytes and can be used as a NAS appliance or as part of a Fibre Channel or iSCSI SAN, and the FAS270C, which includes internal clustering, Vasuvedevan said.

"They're now hitting the [midrange] with the most activity," said Michael Fanelli, western regional manager at Sales Strategies, a Metuchen, N.J., solution provider, about Network Appliance.

EMC, too, has signaled its intent to dig deeper into the midrange with applications from recent acquisitions, said Jeff Bernard, director of product marketing for Clariion software at EMC, Hopkinton, Mass.

EMC's VisualSRM enables automated management based on customer policies, and VisualSAN allows customers to discover storage devices and their active configurations and to manage those devices as well.