HP enters midrange NAS market

By Zachary Shess

Late last month, Hewlett-Packard announced the NetStorage 6000, a department-level network-attached storage (NAS) device that could fill a significant gap between entry-level (sub-$10,000) and high-end NAS devices.

Based on technology OEM'ed from Procom Technology, NetStorage 6000 devices are expected to begin shipping May 1. Four models range from 76GB to 360GB, with anticipated street prices ranging from $15,000 to $35,000. The Net-Storage 6000 supports RAID 0, 1, and 5. Network support includes 10/100 Base T and Gigabit Ethernet protocols. The NAS devices can be monitored and managed with HP OpenView and Computer Associates' Unicenter TNG frameworks.

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HP's NAS push occurs as industry interest continues to heat up, with more vendors entering the market and analysts maintaining promising forecasts.

According to Data-quest, a research firm in San Jose, CA, total NAS market revenue is predicted to grow from $1.3 billion this year to $6.7 billion in 2003. Unit shipments are expected to explode from 201,000 units this year to more than one million units in 2003.

Dataquest also reports that unit shipments of NAS devices based on hard disk drives are growing at a 126% compound annual growth rate, with revenues growing at a 75% CAGR. Unit shipments are expected to grow from 32,500 units in 1999 to more than 990,000 units in 2003 (see chart on cover). In contrast, market growth for NAS devices based on optical disc drives is dwindling, with unit shipments pegged at only an 8% CAGR and revenues at a 1% CAGR.

HP plans to leverage its channel presence and brand recognition to bridge the gap between high-end vendors pursuing vertical markets and disk-drive manufacturers introducing low-end appliances.

"The reason why the midrange NAS market has not taken off, and other vendors haven't jumped in yet, is because there's an awful lot of market education that needs to be done," says Jeff Pieterick, HP marketing manager. "Many IT professionals are not really familiar with NAS, but that's changing very quickly."

Vendors, resellers, and analysts agree that backup also continues to emerge as an important application fueling NAS success. Last month, HP introduced the SureStore AutoBackup appliance, designed to automate backup for networked PCs and laptops. In contrast to a general-purpose server, the dedicated appliance runs integrated backup software on a streamlined Windows NT operating system.

The PC25 version provides backup for 25 clients, offering 60GB of compressed capacity. Its approximate street price is $4,500. The PC100 model, designed for a 100-client environment, provides 240GB of compressed capacity and will be priced around $10,000. Both models are also slated to ship May 1.

This article was originally published on April 01, 2000