Storage Vendors Pleased With Comdex

Most storage vendors with booths on the show floor said they felt that the attendees of this show were better qualified, and more able to talk business, than in the past.

Several of the storage vendors that said they had good booth traffic were those with solution providers in their booths to talk to customers, including Nexsan Technologies, Computer Associates International and Qualstar.

Diamond Lauffin, senior executive vice president of Nexsan, which manufacturers ATA hard drive-based storage arrays, said that in his 10 years of going to Comdex, 2003 was the best show he has ever seen in terms of new business. "We expect to pay for our presence here by three [times] or four times just from the first day," he said.

Lauffin footed the bill for a number of solution providers to join in part to show that his company has no direct sales. "For resellers, Comdex is still a valid vehicle," he said. "We have capitalized on the lack of interest from Sun [Microsystems] and Hewlett-Packard in releasing new products here."

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The quality of the visitors to the show has vastly improved from in the past, said Lauffin. "In the past, a lot of companies sent their people as a perk," he said. "So after 9/11, we didn't see a drop in the number of companies visiting, but did see a drop in all the extra people they brought."

Murray Granger, executive vice president of sales at VeriStor, a Duluth, Ga.-based solution provider who worked the Nexsan booth, said he was at Comdex to help a vendor that focuses on the channel. "The way [Nexsan] protects the channel is the reason the channel is so happy with them," he said.

During the show, Nexsan unveiled its new SATAblade, a 1U rackmount unit with up to eight Serial ATA (SATA) hard drives. Because the drives are hot-pluggable, solution providers can configure them on-the-fly, said Lauffin. SCSI and Fibre Channel versions are in beta testing now, and are expected to be released in early 2004, followed shortly thereafter by iSCSI models, he said.

The company also showed its ATAtwin, an on-line disk-based backup appliance. Inside are one or two ATAbabies, each of which offer 900 Gbytes of storage for a price of about $2,795, Lauffin said.

Fastora, City of Industry, Calif., showed its family of NAS appliances based on Microsoft's Windows Powered Storage Server operating system for the solution provider and retail markets.

New for the company was the DAS-T8CA, a storage array for up to eight SATA hard drives, said Larry LaCross, channel sales manager for the company. The direct-attached storage unit is expected to ship in December with a list price of $3,995, excluding the hard drives which are left to solution providers to install. A 3U, 15-bay version is expected to be available after Christmas, followed shortly by a version with NAS capabilities, said LaCross. They will ship mainly through distributors, he said.

Fastora's storage devices now include a copy of version 2.0 of Avail Solutions' Integrity backup and restore software. The software is burned on the Fastora devices' controller and comes with a 30-day free trial, said Jay Bartlett, director of sales for Avail.

The software allows data from multiple servers to be backed up to disk-based or tape-based backup units, and offers data replication and migration capabilities, Bartlett said. Version 2.0 also now allows an Internet-like keyword searching of the names of files across all storage devices on a network, he said.

The Integrity software will soon be part of new combination hard drive and tape drive appliances from Fastora and Breece Hill, said Bartlett.

Breece Hill showed its iStoRa 4000 disk-to-disk-to-tape backup appliance. The 4U rackmount enclosure has six hard drives and a 10-cartridge tape autoloader built in, said Frank Saab, vice president of marketing. it is expected to ship in January for slightly less than $10,000, including three hard drives and a VS160 tape drive, he said.

Breece Hill will follow them with the iStoRa 2000, a 2U appliance with six hard drives, one tape drives, and no tape slots starting early next year, said Saab. It will be followed by the iStoRa 1000 with a 1U enclosure, three hard drives, and a DDS tape drive, which in turn will be followed by the iStoRa 7000, a 7U device with 2 Tbytes of disk storage and a two-drive LTO tape library, he said.

Kashya showed its KBX 4000, a 1U-high data protection appliance that replicates heterogeneous storage to any distance via TCP networks, said Mehran Hadipour, vice president of product marketing. The appliance allow allows data replication and synchronous and asynchronous data snapshots, he said.

For the SOHO market, Iomega introduced an Ethernet-enabled external drive that allows 250 Gbytes of capacity to be added to a home LAN for about $429, said Chris Maddox, product manager. A 120-Gbyte version is priced at $299.

The company also showed its new Super DVD QuikTouch Video Burner, which allows recording of videos to DVD in three common DVD formats by pressing a single button, Maddox said.

Iomega also showed its new REV removable hard drives, expected to be available in March. Each cartridge has up to 35 Gbytes of capacity and its own motor inside to prevent contamination from dust, said Troy Davidson, chief software architect. Data transfer rate is 18 MBps on the average, allowing it to both replace tape and serve as a boot drive if a system crashes, he said.

STORServer, Colorado Springs, Colo., unveiled three backup appliances based on rackmount tape libraries from Qualstar targeting solution providers from the entry-level to the enterprise, company executives said. Capacity ranges from 35 Gbytes to 12 Tbytes using AIT tape technology, with SDLT and LTO versions expected to be available by year-end.

Hewlett-Packard and Plasmon unveiled optical drives and optical jukeboxes based on the Ultra Density Optical (UDO) technology the two co-developed.

UDO arrives in time to meet the booming need for storage media on which to archive information for long periods of time due to regulatory and compliance issues, said Dave Dupont, vice president of marketing at Plasmon, which is making the drives. Instead of storing such data on tape or hard disk, where it needs to be migrated to new technology every few years, UDO disks have an expected life of 50 years, he said.

Initial capacity of UDO media when it ships in quantity will be 30 Gbytes per disk, said Dupont. This will be bumped up to 60 Gbytes in 2005 and 120 Gbytes in 2007, he said.

Plasmon and HP both plan to offer jukeboxes to their channel partners through distributors such as Optical Laser, NewWave, Tech Data, Cranel and Bell Micro. In addition, more than 25 ISVs already support the new format.