Quantum bulks up with NAS appliance

Quantum Corp. beefed up its networked storage product line Monday with the announcement of a new Linux-based appliance targeted at small and medium-size businesses.

A few customers will get early access next month to the Guardian 14000 appliance, designed to provide a relatively low-cost product that fits into a NAS (network attached storage) architecture. Quantum will start shipping the Guardian 14000 to all customers by midyear with a price tag of US$24,900 for 1.4T bytes of storage capacity in a rack-mounted appliance that is 3U (5.25 inches) high. The new product expands Quantum’s NAS line beyond its lower-end Snap Server appliances.

“This product is perfect for a remote sales office or work group that is looking to store some of their data locally,” said Jim Sherhart, senior product manager for rack mount systems at Quantum. “A lot companies are in the NAS business for this market, but we think Quantum will bring more name recognition than other players who are just getting in.”

Quantum, based in Milpitas, California, will likely bring out larger NAS systems in the future, as the company looks to up its position in a hot market. Companies such as Network Appliance Inc. have profited by selling relatively simple-to-use hardware that plugs into a company’s existing IP (Internet Protocol) network. The types of NAS appliances sold by both Quantum and Network Appliance come with pre-installed management software that handles basic data backup and snap-shot tasks.

Unlike direct seller Network Appliance, Quantum will use its OEM (original equipment manufactures) partnerships to distribute the Guardian 14000, which could help bring NAS appliances to a new set of customers, said one analyst.

“Quantum has massive distribution abilities that it can use to put value in this part of the market,” said Steve Duplessie, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Massachusetts. “Some customers that were snubbed by the big guys may look at this product as a way to solve their problem.”

Both Network Appliance and EMC Corp. tend to focus on larger accounts, meaning Quantum’s new product could be a success in its target market of smaller companies.

Greg Percival, IT infrastructure manager at Kraton Polymers LLC in Houston, is one such midsize company customer that has had early access to the Guardian 14000 and found that it helped reduce congestion in his network.

Kraton had been using a lot of the internal storage included with its NT-based servers but faced a capacity shortage as some of the servers filled with data.

“We found that we were consuming more disk space on the servers than we should and were bottlenecking user data,” Percival said. “We would try and scrub or erase some of the old data, but you often do this in a hurry and mistakes can occur. By using the Guardian for storage on these servers, we had something that was easy to set up and let us stop worrying about the capacity problem.”

The Guardian 14000 runs on a tweaked version of Red Hat Inc.’s Linux operating system and can be used as storage for servers running Linux, Windows, Unix and Macintosh operating systems.