ONStor Cougar Sinks Its Teeth into the Midmarket

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


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The new Cougar 3000 Series of network-attached storage gateway appliances aim to give solution providers an affordable, enterprise-class system for small and midsize businesses.

ONStor is looking to tap into midmarket demand for storage solutions that deliver cost-savings and performance efficiencies with its new Cougar series network-attached storage gateway appliances, specifically designed for the price-conscious SMB market.

Hewlett-Packard’s StorageWorks Simple SAN, announced in April 2008, and Dell’s EqualLogic purchase suggested that vendors were eager to go after the SMB and midmarket storage space. HP’s recent announcement that it will buy LeftHand Networks to add virtualization capabilities to its lineup solidified the importance of the SMB and SME to major vendors’ bottom lines, and now even smaller vendors such as FalconStor are getting in on the action, analysts say.

As vendors realize that midmarket companies have the same technology needs as larger enterprises, the focus will hone in on whose products are the easiest to use, most scalable and offer the highest performance for the money.

"Midmarket companies have even smaller IT budgets and less resources than large enterprises to house space- and power-hungry storage devices," says Tom Gallivan, senior vice president of worldwide sales at ONStor. But it is these midmarket companies that often are most in need of scalable, flexible storage solutions as their business grows, data flows increase and the demand for capacity skyrockets, he says.

"Everyone’s watching their budgets right now, even as solution providers and their customers realize that disaster recovery/business continuity systems are becoming more and more crucial," Gallivan says. "That’s the market we’re targeting with this series."

The Cougar gateway enables solution providers to control system and management costs by consolidating their file servers, simplifying the management of unstructured data and scale in two dimensions: performance and capacity. The Cougar platform also reduces physical space constraints, power usage and cooling costs by leveraging storage virtualization, says Gallivan.

The Cougar series includes the 3310 and 3510 models, and are ideal for file server consolidation, persistent data archiving, digital image repositories or support for applications such as video streaming, M-CAD or SAAS (software as a service), the company says.

Virtualization is a key aspect of all these vendor products, since solution providers can use the technology to help customers virtualize their file servers and cut down not only on physical space requirements but on licensing costs and software purchases.

"By virtualizing file servers, you can streamline file management and ease the license management and patch management burden – redeploy all those licenses on virtual servers running on this platform and your IT departments can squeeze that much more blood out of the turnip," Gallivan says.

The Cougar 3000 Series includes many of the same enterprise-class features of ONStor's higher-end Cougar 6000, including the EverScale redundant modular architecture, heterogeneous storage virtualization and advanced multicore storage network processors, says Gallivan.

Gallivan says solution providers can target both new and existing ONStor customers, since all Cougar models can be mixed and matched in a single cluster. 

Tod Kisner, an account executive with Tego Data Systems, a North Carolina solution provider and ONStor partner, says the Cougar 3000 series is a perfect fit for his customers who’ve previously made huge investments in storage infrastructure but realize their capacity needs have outgrown their storage budget.

"What a lot of our customers are finding is adding more and more capacity is too expensive and too difficult – they can’t continue to grow like that. This is a great way for them to scale easily and quickly," Kisner says.

Tego has many customers in the health care and legal fields who need easy-to-use, affordable and secure storage to ensure data is easily available and complies with government regulations. Tego also targets first-time SAN buyers who may have invested in virtualization technology and realize they need centralized storage for archiving and business continuity.

"These guys may have just invested in VMware, and they are putting a lot of eggs in one basket; running all their data and applications on just a few servers," Kisner says.  "Suddenly they realize, 'Hey, this storage is expensive!’ and they need something that can start small and grow with them.

ONStor’s trade-in program also can incent solution providers’ legacy customers to upgrade from lower-end storage solutions such as ONStor’s Bobcat as well as other vendors’ hardware, since the VARs receive credit for the legacy systems they turn in and can then pass the savings on to the customer when a new ONStor solution is purchased.

Kisner says he’s used the trade-in program successfully in the past and is currently working with a customer to replace a legacy EMC storage solution.

Price and scalability are the main reasons customers make the switch, Kisner says.

"Other vendors have a hard time scaling – they can put in an entry level system, but then there’s a huge premium to move up to the next level," he says. The Cougar 3000 series fills that scalability and performance gap for customers, he says.

Even if customers used competing vendors’ storage technology such as EMC or NetApp, the Cougar 3000 Series gateways support heterogeneous storage, allowing them to be used with an organization's existing SAN storage infrastructure for plug-and-play convenience and added cost savings.

Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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