Firm launches Vast, low-cost storage

Brampton, Ont.-based Open Storage Solutions Inc. in January unveiled Vast, a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) system that relies on advanced technology attachment (ATA) drives to store data.

ATA drives, normally found in desktop computers, are less expensive than SCSI or Fibre Channel drives, said Open Storage’s President Andrew Betterton. Vast, priced at $15 per gigabyte, is much less expensive than other RAID systems.

“The segment where we see it sitting is in the low-end server and high-end desktops,” Betterton said. “The cost per megabyte is so attractive that it opens up new applications, such as disk-to-disk backup instead of tape.”

Alan Freedman, an industry analyst with IDC Canada in Toronto, said the Open Storage product is priced “very low. We’re predicting that pricing is going to get down to a little above that ($15 per GB) in a couple of years, on average. But that includes high-end storage as well.”

Vast employs an Ultra160 SCSI host connection and incorporates as many as eight Seagate 80GB 7,200 rpm drives for a total storage capacity of 640GB. Each drive relies on its own drive channel – an architecture that allows for hot-swaps and automatic rebuilds, Betterton said.

The system works with Windows 95, 98 and 2000, as well as Novell NetWare, SCO, Linux, Mac OS, Solaris, AIX and Unix. It also supports clustering through Windows 2000 Datacenter and offers Web management for remote access. If one of the drives goes offline, Vast notifies the network manager by e-mail.

“If we do a maintenance contract, we suggest the customer have those e-mail notifications sent to us as well, so we can arrive with a disk drive or whatever is needed almost before the customer knows about the problem,” Betterton said.

Freedman said Open Storage might be on to something with Vast.

“I think there’s an additional need for storage at all ends, and it’s becoming an increasing focus in all markets,” he said.

Vast is priced at $7,770 for five-disk-arrays and $9,673 for eight-disk-systems. Betterton said three-year on-site maintenance service costs $1,800 and installation is priced at $400. For more information, see Open Storage online at