With pricing for magnetic disk drives having fallen so low in recent years manufacturers have almost felt compelled to now offer their own storage systems as a way to shore up their profitability.
Case in point is Western Digital, which this week unveiled a set of network-attached storage (NAS) systems aimed at the small-to-medium business (SMB) market. As part of that effort Western Digital is trying to create a global channel by targeting more than 20,000 solution partners that potentially could sell NAS storage into the SMB space, said James Gregg, director of Product Marketing.
The latest NAS offerings from Western Digital consist of a My Cloud Business Series that provides up to 24TB storage across two-bay and four-bay NAS storage system. Based on dual-core Atom processors, the NAS storage systems also make use of a WD My Cloud operating system that is a derivative of Linux.
At the same time, Western Digital is targeting individual professionals that need dedicated storage with NAS systems that are designed around dual-core ARMADA processors from Marvell. Like the business series, the My Cloud Expert Series provides up to 24TB of storage.
Western Digital is trying to differentiate the business series in a crowed category by including AES 256-bit volume encryption, multiple RAID options, backup and recovery software that can be integrated with cloud services such as Amazon S3. Users can also use the one-touch USB 3.0 copy button to automatically copy data from an external USB storage device onto the NAS.
The My Cloud Business Series products also provides an iSCSI target and initiator, replication and file synchronization, integrated FTP, WebDAV server, SSH Shell and Microsoft Active Directory support. There are also dual power supply ports with failover, dual Gigabit Ethernet and UPS support. Memory on the My Cloud Business Series memory can also be expanded to 6GB, and the systems can be connected using dual NICs or USB ports.
As the manufacturer of the disk drives, Western Digital has more margin to play with than storage vendors that take storage devices from drive manufacturers and then package them up into subsystems aimed at the SMB market, Gregg said. As such, Western Digital is betting solution providers soon will be switching their loyalties.
Of course, Western Digital isn’t the only disk drive manufacturer with the same game plan. Seagate has been aggressively building a channel to market NAS storage products for more than a year. It's also a safe bet none of those vendors that already sell NAS storage into the SMB space will give up just because Western Digital and Seagate are essentially trying to displace them. That means as far as storage in the SMB space goes it’s still a solution provider’s market, at least for the time being.