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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.