Avnet Cranks Up Online Storage Configurator

The Avnet FastBuild Storage configurator is for partners looking to build to order direct-attached storage arrays, said Michael Romero, director of technical sales and engineering for the Phoenix-based distributor. VARs will be able to configure white-box NAS and SAN subsystems online within the next 30 days, he said.

The ability to configure storage devices to order has been available from vendors and distributors for years. For instance, Agilysys, formerly known as Pioneer-Standard, has offered the capability for four or five years for products from all its vendor partners, said Stewart Applbaum, director of marketing for Agilysys.


Avnet's Michael Gaeta says new online service prevents any misconfigurations.

Many distributors, including Avnet and Agilysys, also offer online configuration for white-box servers based on Intel and/or AMD strategies.

Romero said that product commoditization, however, has made it more difficult for solution providers to differentiate themselves through building white-box servers or desktop systems.

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"White-box storage devices give them an opportunity to differentiate, and thereby drive more business," he said.

Avnet's custom storage devices are built using enclosures and controllers from Promise Technology and hard drives from Seagate Technology. Solution providers can configure the units, get realtime pricing, and place the order online. Once configured, the devices will ship to solution providers within 72 hours.


In addition to being able to configure storage devices, solution providers will receive education through the new online service, said Michael Gaeta, vice president of storage and displays for Avnet.

For instance, during the configuration process, terms such as RAID-5 are automatically explained, he said.

Also, as a unit is configured, certain defaults are assigned so that, for instance, the correct minimum number of drives are ordered to meet the needs of a specific RAID level, Gaeta said. "You cannot misconfigure a system," he said. "With our rules, you can only go down one path."

John Howard, principal and vice president of sales at Boston Computers and Peripherals, a Sharon, Mass.-based solution provider, said his company currently builds its own white-box storage subsystems. Howard said he is quite satisfied with the Promise enclosures and controllers, which make up the base of the storage arrays his firm builds.

However, he said, for him, the bottom line is price, and so he has no plans to turn to others for configuration.

"It's great that Avnet is offering such a service," he said. "They're dumbing it down to the non-storage integrator. But they have to charge for the integration."