New Nexsan Arrays Add Unified Storage, SSD Tier

Nexsan this week unveiled a line of storage arrays that for the first time gives the company unified NAS and SAN capability and a high-speed SSD cache.

The new NST5000 series of storage arrays provide true unified storage capabilities, with users able to access data in the file mode as a NAS array or the block mode as an iSCSI SAN array with a single head, said Don Chouinard, director of product marketing at Nexsan, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Featured in the Nexsan NST5000 arrays is the company's proprietary FASTier acceleration technology, which automatically uses its high-performance solid state memory as part of a fault-tolerant architecture to accelerate the performance of the arrays' SAS and SATA hard drives, Chouinard said.

[Related: Nexsan To Launch Its First NAS Appliances, Plans Unified SAN-NAS Option ]

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Doug Cole, senior partner at LH Computer Services, a Coral Springs, Fla.-based solution provider and eight-year Nexsan partner, said the NST5000 arrays are a serious attempt by the vendor to move from its roots as a provider of dependable, low-cost storage to a developer of high-performance arrays for enterprise customers.

"For years Nexsan has been, in simple terms, a provider of 'vanilla' storage," Cole said. "Now it has unified storage, SSDs, and SAS hard drives so it not only works with low-performance applications but also with higher-performance ones."

As a result, Cole said, his company is able to reach a whole new customer set it was not able to reach with earlier Nexsan arrays.

"Now we can target Fortune 500 companies that before looked only at EMC or NetApp arrays," he said. "OK, that may be a little aggressive. But in companies where EMC or NetApp are the incumbents, it is tough to get in."

Chouinard gave more details on the new arrays, saying that on the iSCSI side individual LUNs (logical volumes) can be set up with up to 64 TB of capacity. The NST5000 allows up to 2,048 snapshots per LUN to be saved using Microsoft's VSS Hardware Provider for mission-critical Microsoft applications. The NST5000 also provides thin provisioning for adding new capacity without taking the system down, as well as synchronous and asynchronous replication.

The NST5000 's FASTier Cache consists of up to 14 Flash-based SSDs and two DRAM-based SSDs that increase storage performance while ensuring that data being written is not lost if the system goes down, Chouinard said.

There are three different models, including one that scales from 8 TB to 93 TB of capacity, one that scales from 9 TB to 720 TB, and a third that scales to 1,080 TB.

Cole said that he likes how Nexsan has brought together a total solution without the need to integrate with third-party software.

"And it's a solid solution," he said. "Sometimes, Nexsan is a little late to the party, but when they arrive, they're ready to rock."

When Cole's company started working with Nexsan eight years ago, the vendor's sales reps told him once a customer puts Nexsan storage into their infrastructure, it will come back for more. "I thought they were just drinking too much of the corporate Kool-Aid," Cole said. "But nine out of 10 of my Nexsan customers are still Nexsan customers."