Stealthy Starboard Storage Unveils Unified Storage Array

By Pedro Hernandez

Starboard Storage Systems, formerly Reldata, shed its stealthy trappings today and debuted new hardware meant to alleviate the struggles suffered by small- and midsize businesses. Specifically, a dearth of storage products that can natively accommodate mixed workloads.

Enter the AC72 Storage System, a 3U, 16-bay midrange unified storage array that consolidates SAN and NAS, and provides a shared pool of SAS storage for structured, unstructured and virtualized data


Taking a page from the flash storage vendor playbook, the system includes an Accelerator Tier comprised of solid-state drives (SSDs). It uses flash memory's quick data retrieval and storage to provide caching for frequently accessed data and reduce latency while writing large files to disk.

AC72 supports several storage-maximizing and data protection mechanisms via an "all-inclusive" software license, including thin provisioning, mirroring, snapshots and asynchronous replication. Volume provisioning across multiple protocols, including CIFS, NFS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel, are streamlined via Starboard Storage Apps.

Addressing SME Storage Pain Points

In a company blog post, Lee Johns, Starboard's vice president of product management, details the thinking that went into crafting the AC72 and the philosophy that governs the Broomfield, Colo.-based startup's approach to SME storage.

The goal is to avoid the costly and sometimes thorny process of shopping for midrange storage. "Every decision is a compromise. Product A is iSCSI only. Product B doesn't offer NAS. Product C is both SAN and NAS, but only offers solid state in high-end models with costly licensing. Product D is optimized only for virtual environments."

He argues that vendors that subscribe to highly targeted product strategies are failing to ease data management for smaller firms. "The reality is that every customer has a mixed workload," he writes. "The explosive growth of unstructured data and virtualized workloads has added to their existing block-based application storage needs."

Hence the AC72, the brainchild of storage industry veterans that include CEO Victor Walker, formerly of Sun, CMO Karl Chen, formerly of LeftHand Networks, and Vice President of Engineering John Potochnik, formerly of LSI. Lefthand founder and CEO, Bill Chambers, is the chairman of the board. Currently, the AC72 is managing 750 terabytes for more 30 customers.

The Starboard AC72 Storage System, which can scale up to 474TB, is available now via channel partners. Prices start at $59,995 for 24TB storage, complete with three SSD drives that make up the accelerator tier.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of IT-related websites and as the Green IT curator for GigaOM Pro. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE

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This article was originally published on February 14, 2012