Opportunities For Partners In NAS


5 Aug 2011
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SMB NAS manufacturers see huge opportunities ahead as the SMB storage market is all set to grow exponentially.

One reason why NAS makers believe the market will grow is the rising awareness about data security among SMB customers. “Over the past year awareness has certainly risen among smaller businesses. Even very small businesses which have less than 10 users are considering the purchase of a NAS box,” says Atul Jain, MD, Netgear Technologies India.

The SMB NAS market is addressed by players such as Iomega, Buffalo, Qnap, Netgear, Seagate, Western Digital, Drobo and a few white-box storage makers such as Netweb Technologies. SMB NAS products are typically priced between `18,000 and `250,000, and specifically address organizations with less than 100 users.

The proliferation of local area networks (LANs) is indirectly expected to contribute to the growth of the NAS market. “Our studies show that many small businesses are investing in robust LAN infrastructure. This would spur investments in servers and storage. The growth expected from SMBs for storage will be significant in the coming years,” notes Neha Jalan, Senior Associate, AMI Partners India.

Susumu Kobayashi, Buffalo’s Country Manager for India, agrees. “As smaller businesses invest in networks, they also invest in servers, and there’s a need to share data. They start off sharing data through removable drives such as thumb drives and external hard drives which are very insecure and totally unreliable. Storing data on an application or domain server is also not a good idea, and that’s where a NAS box is very reliable.”

Price drops have also helped the cause. “Prices of entry-level NAS boxes have fallen over the past two years. Today you can actually own an entry-level 1 TB storage box of an established brand for less than `20,000,” says Chandra Prakash, CEO, India IT Shop, Bengaluru.

Vendors have also become aggressive. Till a year back most vendors were reluctant to ship empty NAS bays or boxes. However, since the recent past, they have become more open to selling a NAS chassis instead of a fully-configured box. This in turn has reduced costs as partners are able to pick and configure drives according to customer wishes. “We see no problem in shipping NAS boxes that can be configured by our partners,” says Kobayashi. “Our sole concern is that they should follow the manual and use only recommended drives.”

Then there’s surveillance, a market which has opened up. The central Home Ministry has issued diktats to the managements of malls, hotels and other public places to install CCTVs and store video footage. “The law is yet to become a reality in many parts of India, but in important metros and temple towns there’s better awareness,” says Jain. Since performance is not very critical in such projects, the storage would be done using SMB NAS boxes instead of the more expensive enterprise boxes.

Business email archiving is another application that’s said to be driving NAS implementation as SMBs want to take a backup of all their corporate email both for business compliance and business analytics.

Besides, many organizations are implementing document management systems which automatically demand centralized storage; this is expected to further drive volumes.

In addition, vendors have launched boxes with larger capacities. Data Robo and Netgear have announced 12-bay boxes that can scale up to 36 TB of space at prices of `250,000+ for a base configuration. These boxes have several enterprise-class features, yet none of the vendors is claiming that these boxes would address enterprise-class requirements. “We are shipping large capacities, but we are not pushing these products for any enterprise-class applications such as running VDI Infrastructure or SAP,” says Phillip Cazabaumone, Senior Director, Drobo.

Adds Manoj Chugh, President, EMC India, “It’s easy to get carried away with entry-level network storage, hence we are very careful in telling our customers when and where to deploy Iomega vis-à-vis a Celerra box. Remember, an entry-level storage box does not ship with many of the standard features which you would see in an enterprise NAS box.”

However, Sandeep Lodha, Director, Netweb, says, “We have been building very affordable NAS boxes that have dual redundant controllers and de-duplication, and are being used by R&D organizations and media companies. We are thinking of launching entry-level boxes based on the Intel Atom platform.”

The present market size is estimated to be around 500 units a month, but vendors are expecting the market to grow to 3,000 units a month. Says Cazabaumone: “The general thumb-rule is that the SMB NAS market could be as large as one box per five servers sold. With the annual server market expected to touch 165,000 units, this could mean potential annual sales of more than 30,000 units.”

source : crn
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