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Overland Storage has introduced a new line of RAID data protection appliances aimed at the SMB and workgroup market.

The new product line initially consists of two products. The Ultamus RAID 5200, available immediately for $36,000 through Overland partners, supports up to 52 SATA (Serial ATA) drives and has 26TB of capacity in a 4u chassis. The company is positioning the 5200 as a replacement for direct-attached and internal server-based storage for Windows, Linux, Solaris and other open systems.

A second offering, the Ultamus RAID 1200, expected to be available shortly, supports up to 12 SATA drives with 6TB of capacity in a 2u enclosure.

The Ultamus RAID 5200 and 1200 primary storage appliances are additions to the company’s Ultamus storage appliance line. Until these releases, the line consisted of one appliance—the Ultamus Pro 500, an enterprise-class storage appliance with similar features, including snapshots, remote and local replication, and virtualization.

Based on an SAS (serial-attached SCSI) architecture, the new line of primary storage appliances offer standard RAID levels, including RAID 6, and uses multiple 4GB Fibre Channel connections. The products have been architected in a smaller form factor than comparable storage appliances and include seamless support for RAID 6, somewhat rare in this space, said Bob Farkaly, Overland Storage’s director of product management.

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Unlike other products, customers won’t pay a performance penalty when going from RAID 5 to RAID 6, Farkaly said.

“Going from RAID 5 to RAID 6 usually causes at least a 20 to 30 percent degradation in performance, but due to Overland’s implementation and leveraged hardware, there will only be single-digit degradation,” he said. “We are hopeful that this will make users a lot more likely to use RAID 6.”

The most unique part of the offering, Farkaly noted, is the company’s DriveAlive technology, which enables blade storage. Embedded in the product, DriveAlive works to improve both the functionality and speed of RAID rebuilds. The technology allows I/O operations such as read, write and verify to logical volumes to continue while a disk is disengaged so the I/O activity required to rebuild the redundancy of the RAID set requires less time than it would take to perform a full rebuild.

Other features include integrated snapshots for point-in-time backup and restores; redundant, hot-swappable components; and a cableless design.

The new additions to Overland Storage’s Ultamus product line signify a concerted effort by the San Diego company to penetrate the SMB (small and midsize business) market. The Ultamus RAID 5200 and 1200 are particularly well-suited to SMBs, as well as workgroups of larger organizations, because of the relatively low price per terabyte, Farkaly said.

These new offerings also represent Overland’s further push into the primary storage market, building on its Ultamus Pro 500 product, something the company has needed to do to expand from its focus on serving the secondary storage needs of customers, said Brad Nisbet, program manager for storage systems at IDC, of Framingham, Mass.

“Overland’s strategy of delivering only the secondary storage aspect to a full solution was probably leaving some customers looking for more,” Nisbet said. “It’s a good step in the right direction for Overland to offer a full line of primary through secondary disk-based storage.”

As for Overland Storage’s predicted success with this endeavor, Nisbet is cautiously optimistic.

“There is no doubt that if the sales of these new products are executed well, Overland can claim some territory within its own customer base, but moving beyond this will be a formidable task given the tremendous amount of products aimed at this same [lower midrange] space,” he said.

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