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Nexsan broadens its product line with a new iSCSI SAN aimed at solution providers whose small and midsize business and midmarket customers need to mix-and-match storage connectivity in a single chassis.

The new iSeries offers iSCSI, Fibre Channel and NAS (network-attached storage) configurations from the same system and provides twice the capacity of similar solutions, up to 1PB of storage, at a fraction of the cost of competitive products, says Bob Woolery, senior vice president of marketing at Nexsan. 

Woolery says the iSeries was born out of high customer demand and from solution providers who’d previously worked to scale down enterprise-class technology to fit the needs of smaller customers.

“Customers were saying, ‘We’d like to have iSCSI SANs that are developed for us—there are plenty of enterprise products out there,’” he says.

Nexsan’s approach has been to offer Tier 1 storage at Tier 2 prices, says Woolery, and the iSeries will offer solution providers enterprise-quality hardware, scalability and reliability at a much more competitive price. 

Many SMB and midmarket customers need to be able to mix-and-match SATA (Serial ATA) connectivity with SAS (serial-attached SCSI) inside the same storage chassis, and the iSeries allows them the flexibility to do so, he says, which can lower procurement costs as well as simplify data and storage management.

“Many alternative systems are just servers with embedded storage that lock customers into one type of connectivity. If you need SAS, you buy one system, and if you need SATA you have to buy another system,” says Woolery. For smaller customers, the costs and complexity of this approach can be an obstacle to getting the performance and capacity that they need, which is why the iSeries is an important addition, he says.

“One system is simpler than two,” Woolery says.  The iSeries is also easily scalable for additional storage capacity as customers’ storage needs grow, without the need to make complex calculations about any future capability and capacity needs, he says.

“Solution providers can buy one system for their customers today that’s so flexible they can easily add to it, at one price without any additional hardware or software licensing fees down the road,” Woolery says.

Uri Zilberman, president of Nexsan reseller RADirect, says the iSeries iSCSI connectivity will drive further use of open standards in customers’ storage architectures, which will help customers lower costs and streamline application and storage management.

“iSCSI is becoming a more common and more acceptable way to open a storage architecture to more servers in the network,” he says. While iSCSI won’t be a solution for every application customers have, the iSeries will be welcomed by many of RADirect’s customers, Zilberman says.

The fact that the iSeries incorporates iSCSI, Fibre Channel and NAS configurations gives the solution incredible flexibility, says Zilberman, and allows it to function as a storage ‘gateway’ to direct specific types of application data to specific storage areas.

“It’s like a networking architecture where you can choose different ways to connect,” he says. “Over time, this will evolve into an open architecture so customers can better mix-and-match storage hardware to handle data from all the different applications they’re using,” he says.

The iSeries also easily integrates with legacy infrastructure, freeing customers from being locked into one particular vendor’s solutions, he says.

“There are competing solutions from EqualLogic and LeftHand Networks, for example,” he says, “But in these financial times, it’s hard to know who will survive and who will not, so customers don’t want to be locked into a particular vendor.”

Interoperability is one reason Zilberman says RADirect has seen incredible interest from customers in health care, higher education and research laboratories, he says. These customers need enterprise-class storage solutions, but many find they can’t justify higher-cost solutions from EMC or Network Appliance, Zilberman says.

“We believe we’ll have rapid adoption of the iSeries from customers,” he says. RADirect has already launched a campaign to educate customers about the new solution, and is getting lots of postive feedback, he says.

While the iSeries includes enterprise-class features such as virtualization capability, snapshots and real-time mirroring, Woolery says Nexsan has no plans to cannibalize on its other products with the new addition.

“We’re not trying to go upstream into the huge database markets or go downmarket to replace tape deployments,” he says. “We have other products that fill those needs and we feel the iSeries will be quite a comfortable fit for SMBs and midmarket customers.”