NEC Makes Inroads on U.S. Market with New Storage Arrays

With the new D-Series, which can scale up a company's data storage from 219GB to 1.152 petabytes, NEC moves to build U.S. market share.

Storage hardware and software maker NEC introduced on May 9 a new midrange storage system that it says can scale up a companys data storage from as little as 219GB to a whopping 1.152 petabytes without disrupting the regular work of the system.

Normally, when storage systems are upgraded or augmented, the process can require anywhere from an hour to several hours of system downtime to stop the system; detach and reattach the additional storage arrays; configure partitions and IP addresses; and reboot and restart the necessary applications.

Nondisruptive upgrades are possible due to NEC D-Series revolutionary design, which the company claims is the first to unify the characteristics of midrange modular and enterprise storage architectures in a single system.

With D-Series arrays, enterprises can also scale from 2GB to 128GB of cache, from 4 to 64 4G-bps fiber channels, and from 4 to 1,156 disk drives, a company spokesperson said. This nondisruptive scalability provides enterprises with broad flexibility in deploying the storage system, the spokesperson said.

A big deal for NEC

"This is a big deal for NEC," Heidi Biggar, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK. "Many [people] would be surprised to know that NEC has an installed base of some 1,000 storage systems in North America and Europe. With the announcement of the D-Series, NEC has made its intents clear: to build both brand awareness and market presence—particularly in U.S. markets."

Brad Nisbet, a storage analyst with IDC, said that this is a "nice step forward" for NEC, whose U.S. corporate base of operations is in Santa Clara, Calif.

"Many vendors have focused on product scalability and providing the associated investment protection to customers. However, many of the major systems vendors have maintained fairly distinct lines between midrange and high-end products," Nisbet said.

"The vendors have definitely focused on scalability and investment protection within each of the respective product groupings, for example, within EMCs Clariion (midrange) or within Symmetrix DMX-3 (high-end), or within IBMs DS4000 (midrange) or within the DS8000 (high-end)," Nisbet said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about "Hydrastor," NECs grid storage architecture .

While competitors have focused on scalability within these platforms, they have yet to really provide the scalability between them (scale without disruption between Clariion and Symmetrix, for example), Nisbet said.

"NECs [recently announced] HYDRAstore was scalable, distributed storage. The D-Series is scalable, centralized storage. Potential NEC customers now have a choice," John Webster, principal analyst with Illuminata, told eWEEK.

Key features include RAID Triple Mirror

Key features of the NEC D-Series, according to the company, include: RAID Triple Mirror, which combines random access performance with continuous operation, even in the event of two hard disk drive failures; SAS disk drives; NEC Phoenix (reduces HDD degradation); cache mirror continuity; and double redundant power supply.

The NEC D-Series is available in five storage array models. The D8-1010, D8-1020 and D8-1040 provide a non-disruptive upgrade path for midsize and large enterprises through NECs unified, modular design. The D1-10 and D3-10, which require offline upgrades, are aimed at SMBs (small and midsize businesses).

The D8-1040 Storage Array is designed for high-end performance; the four-node version features 64 Fibre Channel ports, 1,536 SAS/SATA HDDs, and 128GB cache. The D8-1020 unit is positioned for SMBs or enterprise business unit; the two-node version includes 32 Fibre Channel ports, 768 SAS/SATA HDDs, and 64GB cache.

The D8-1010 array is also aimed at midsize businesses or enterprise departments; the single-node array includes 16 Fibre Channel ports, 384 SAS/SATA HDDs, and 16GB cache. The D3-10 is an entry-level model for small businesses or departments, featuring 12 Fibre Channel ports, 144 SAS/SATA HDDs, and 4GB cache.

Finally, the D1-10 array also is an entry-level model for small businesses or work groups that includes 4 Fibre Channel ports, 72 SAS/SATA HDDs, and 2GB cache.

Can D-Series help raise NECs profile?

NEC ranks far behind such powerhouse storage system companies as EMC, IBM, HP, Network Appliance and Hitachi in U.S. market share. Will the D-Series bolster the Japanese companys profile?

"Its a start, and again, the D-Series should give NEC a leg up on competitors, especially startups," Biggar said.

"NEC has a big job ahead of itself to build both mind share and market share in the U.S. NEC has a name in the PC space, but not so much in storage. That said, the D-Series has some notable advantages over traditional storage systems, which users should find appealing."

The D-Series starts at $15,000 and is now shipping.

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...