Sony makes a play in storage space

Although best known for its electronic gizmos and digital gadgets, Sony of Canada Ltd. has ventured into the storage market and hopes its name will help get its foot through the door.

Last month, the Toronto-based company announced new networked storage additions to its already growing list of storage offerings. Part of Sony’s StorStation family, the products easy installation and management and are compatible with multiple operating system platforms.

Designed for medium-sized enterprises, the company has designed the BSV M-1, a packaged network back-up server and AIT library solution enabling automatic archiving and fast data restores. The BSV M-1 includes a network-attached server, which is integrated with the new AIT library LIB-162, and comes equipped with Computer Associates’ ARCserve storage software. The LIB-162 system houses up to two AIT-1, AIT-2 or AIT-3 drives and 16 cartridge slots, and stores up to 4.6TB of capacity.

“By ading the BSV M-1 on top of the AIT, you really do have plug-and-play storage because you just hook these two devices together and you are ready to do your back-up jobs,” said Geoffrey McMurdo, product marketing manager of storage solutions for Sony Canada’s Communications and Information Solutions Group (CIS). “What we are trying to do is uncomplicate the this equation. Rather than having to buy a Sony tape library, and HP computer and put Computer Associates software on it, we are making this more of a turnkey solution.”

Another addition to Sony’s storage family is the FSV M-1 StorStation NAS device. Designed for larger businesses, the FSV M-1 unit includes up to 480GB of native capacity provided by four 120GB hard drives, which can be set up in RAID zero, one or five configurations for additional security, and is a 1U-slim form-factor.

Although the NAS market is growing steadily, IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto said Sony may experience difficulty penetrating the space. According to Alan Freedman research manager, servers and storage with IDC Canada, the first step for Sony is getting some credibility in the space.

“Sony is definitely a household name especially for their electronics and their tape drives,” Freedman said. “They are definitely targeting a good market and even though the market is not putting forth the adoption rates we had expected, there is lots of potential. But they are going to have to really provide a strong argument for going with Sony as opposed to some of the incumbents.”

Freedman continued that today, companies are spending more on storage than in past years as it has become a top of mind strategic decision rather than a secondary IT decision.

This has been especially true for Ian Soper. Soper, manager of the Gatineau Satellite Station for the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS), a division of Natural Resources Canada manages one of two satellite receiving stations which receive data from remote sensing satellites. The mission at the stations is to receive and archive data concerning resource management. The CCRS opted for Sony’s DTF PETASITE 8400 Series offering, which holds approximately 1,250 tape cartridges.

“Over the years we have been keeping all this satellite data and we have now over 350 terabytes of data,” Soper said. “We chose (this) system because one of our problems in the past has always been tape recorder speeds. We have had other systems like optical tape systems where they would hold a huge amount of data, but the drive was slow. The Sony (drives) are very fast. They run at 24Mbps.”

Soper added that the CCRS is confident in Sony’s investment protection strategy, whereby the company said it is committed to doubling the speed and capacity of the tape drives every few years in order to suit the organization’s need.

The Sony BSV M-1 is shipping now and is priced at $6,000. The FSV M-1 is also available now and lists for $8,000. For more information, visit Sony on the Web at