FIA enters low-end NAS space

Posted on July 01, 2001

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BY LISA COLEMAN

FIA Storage Systems Group, the newest entry-level network-attached storage (NAS) player, shipped its first NAS device this month. The San Clemente, CA-based company is targeting its POPnetserver family at small businesses, departments, and workgroups in education, government, and broadcast markets.

FIA is aiming at the low-end NAS space that is dominated by Snap Appliances' SNAP Server. The company claims its devices offer more capacity, availability, and performance at a lower cost than the SNAP 2000. To reach the market, FIA is making its NAS devices available through OEMs and value-added resellers (VARs).

A wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Wearnes Technology Corp., FIA evolved from First Internet Alliance, an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Then, a group of entrepreneurs transformed FIA into a storage systems company led by Gene Lu, formerly the founder, CEO, and chairman of Advanced Logic Research.

"Our past is in delivering performance products that are aggressively priced, and we hope to replicate that," says FIA president and CEO Lu. "Snap, Dell, Gateway, and Maxtor are all out there. We know we have a high bar to clear."

The first two FIA NAS products are the POPnetserver 2000 and POPnetserver 4000. The 2000 is a 1U, three-drive system with 120GB that scales to 8.9TB. The device supports NT, Unix, Apple, and Netware. The 2000 is configured for RAID 5 but can also be configured for RAID 0 or 1.

The POPnetserver 4000 includes four hot-swappable drives with 320GB and is scalable to 12TB. The 1U device is configured for RAID 5 plus hot sparing. Both the 4000 and 2000 have built-in sequential booting so that the device can boot from any drive within the system. The 4000 unit also supports heterogeneous network environments.

The POPnetserver 2000, which is now shipping, is priced from $795. The POP netserver 4000, priced from $1,495, is scheduled to ship in the third quarter.

The POPnetserver offers 30% more storage than the SNAP 2000, claims Lu. "And at the same cost, we support RAID 5, a key differentiator for reliability."

FIA plans to introduce the POP netserver 5000 and 8000 in Q4 and Q1 2002, respectively. The 5000 will have four drives with 288GB, Ultra160 SCSI, RAID 0, 1, 5, 5+, as well as online expansion. The 8000 will have eight drives, 576GB, and support for Gigabit Ethernet, clustering, and replication.

In addition, FIA is developing a virtual storage-on-demand product that will be offered with its NAS devices by year-end.

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