ESG Brief Nexsan Gets Its NAS

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ESG Brief Nexsan Gets Its NAS

ESG Brief Nexsan Gets Its NAS

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  • 1. Product Brief Nexsan’s NAS Play Date: November, 2011 Author: Terri McClure, Senior Analyst Abstract: Nexsan is probably better known for its rather interesting product names, like SATABoy and SATABeast, than its corporate brand. But the moves it has made over the past year or so indicate that it is ready and indeed making a push to make Nexsan a household name for midsize enterprise storage solutions. It has a refreshed and rebranded product line and has expanded into the network attached storage (NAS) space. The new E5000 NAS system has a solid foundation in Nexsan technology and supports a new, intuitive management interface that takes a page out of Apple’s easy and fun design book, and some interesting features that make it a compelling mid-tier NAS solution.OverviewNexsan and its Obsession with SatisfactionOver recent years, Nexsan has been quietly evolving into a strong contender. It does not enjoy as much of the brandrecognition as it could because of its unique product naming convention, which almost personified its products withnames like SATABoy and SATABeast—this created great recognition at the product level, but little for Nexsan. Itsproducts earned a reputation for being feature rich, easy to use, and reliable; now, Nexsan claims over 10,000 users andnearly 30,000 systems shipped.Nexsan is a company obsessed with satisfaction. It pays extremely close attention and obsessively measures itscustomers’ satisfaction with not only its products and services, but also with its channel partners. This obsession showsin its ratings, which are measured on a regular basis by a third-party company. Recent results show a whopping 96% ofthose surveyed report they are highly satisfied with Nexsan’s products, and 92% would recommend them to a peer. And95% of those surveyed rated Nexsan’s VARs as delivering support and technical knowledge as satisfied or better.Since 100% of Nexsan’s sales are through channel partners, this is one way for Nexsan to keep up with how its productsare perceived by end-users. And since midsized enterprises often rely heavily on these same channel partners for serviceand support, keeping tabs on how they deliver against Nexsan products is critical to the ongoing success of thecompany. Yet it is surprisingly rare to find any company that pays this much attention to ensuring customers are happyacross the board. This obsession with satisfaction should help ensure Nexsan continued success as it expands into newmarkets and introduces new products, such as the E5000 NAS arrayExpanding its Portfolio into NASNexsan has a decade of success in selling block-based storage systems built on three principles: enterprise class,efficiency, and ease of use.1 It makes sense to expand into adjacent areas and address unstructured data as well. In fact,ESG research conducted in late 2010 found that 85% of respondents have deployed dedicated NAS systems (see Figure1), representing a strong opportunity for Nexsan to leverage its happy install base to grow its business with new usecases.21 For more on this topic, see: ESG Brief, Nexsan’s Flexible Storage Platform, April 2011.2 Source: ESG Research, 2010. © 2011 Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 2. Product Brief: Nexsan’s NAS Play 2 Figure 1. Percentage of Organizations that Use Dedicated NAS Systems Which of the following type(s) of disk-based storage systems are currently being used by your organization? (Percent of respondents, N=306, multiple responses accepted) Network-attached storage, i.e., NAS (this includes general-purpose file servers as well as storage 85% systems accessible via NAS gateways) Storage area network, i.e., SAN (this includes Fibre 68% Channel and iSCSI storage systems) Direct-attached storage (DAS) 59% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2011.Leveraging the E-Series backend storage, the E5000 supports both CIFS and NFS protocols. It can scale to 1 PB, morethan enough for most mid-size enterprise IT shops, and supports both 1Gb and 10Gb Ethernet connections so there’s noworry about network connectivity bottlenecks. It can also plug into just about any environment.Its combination of solid state drive (SSD) support, FASTier technology, and a choice of drive types means that the arraycan operate very efficiently without a performance penalty. The multi-level cache architecture allows the system tomeet the random hypervisor IO often found in virtual server environments while the primary system cache handles themore sequential data traffic more common to file environments. The system automatically places data on the mostappropriate tier and the combination of SSD and dense SATA drives means it can maintain required performance levelsyet still be very efficient—occupying a reduced footprint and consuming less power thanks to excellent density.Like most systems in its class, it is fully redundant with no single points of failure and hot pluggable controllers. Unlikemost systems in its class, it supports AutoMAID, which spins down disks until the data they contain is needed. Its datalayout algorithms ensure that infrequently accessed data is pooled onto dense SATA disks in such a way that MAID(massive array of idle disk) can be leveraged effectively. Nexsan claims users can use only one-fifth of the powerrequired for equal capacity of competitive products.Digging DeeperNexsan has been around the storage block a few times; it is not a new entry in the storage market and has a track recordthat can give users worried about buying a new product some piece of mind. If, as it is said, IT is a combination ofpeople, processes, and technology, then Nexsan seems to have the whole thing covered.From a people perspective, storage systems need to be simple to use to minimize training costs and risk, not to mentionjust making administrators lives easier. Nexsan tackles this with its new E5000 management interface. Its intuitivemanagement is both functional and easy to navigate and will do especially well with IT “generalists” who dont havetime to go to storage school to figure out how to add capacity, create a snapshot, or add a new host into the mix. Itreflects the continued push toward the "consumerization of IT" with an interface that is just as easy to use.On the process side, operations teams want a robust test and development process when implementing newapplications or patching existing applications reliably and efficiently, as well as reliable backup and data protectionpractices. Many users use snaps and clones to speed these processes, because it is much quicker and less disruptive tocopy a storage volume than do a systems level read and write to create a copy. The Nexsan E5000 NAS system has all © 2011 Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
  • 3. Product Brief: Nexsan’s NAS Play 3the bells and whistles one would expect from a system that has been on the market for years—it is not your typical firstgeneration system and it supports snap and clone, as well as asynchronous remote replication right out of the gate. Thatis because it has been able to leverage its years of storage technology experience and development and bring that toplay in the new system.The To-do ListDelivering a surprisingly well rounded solution for its first release of the product should be enough, but it would makesense for Nexsan to take the next step and introduce a unified storage system with both block and file support. Servervirtualization is still a top priority for Nexsan’s target market, and users need to deploy networked storage to supportthese environments. The attraction of buying one networked storage system that supports both block and file needs isundeniable for many reasons, like reducing footprint and power, cooling, and management costs. The economy is stilldragging and everyone is looking for cost savings, making the value proposition of unified storage even more attractive.ESG would not be surprised to see Nexsan introduce some sort of unified system within the next 12 months. Also,integration with the popular virtualization management consoles like VMware VSphere is becoming increasinglyimportant—users can live without it, but as they advance along their virtualization journeys, it becomes increasinglyimportant and should be addressed.The Bigger TruthThe IT generalist will like the management tools as they are a sign of things to come. As consumer-like technology makesits way into IT, generational change means users will be gravitating toward increasingly familiar types of interfaces.With such a solid base to build from, there is little doubt that the E5000 NAS system will measure up to the rest of theline. On the technology front, the system has a solid foundation and a surprisingly robust feature set for a firstgeneration NAS platform. But despite its appearance of maturity from a feature function standpoint and Nexsan’slegacy, it is a new product and needs to get into the field and prove its reliability and performance. But users can resteasy. With Nexsan’s obsession with measuring customer satisfaction, if there are any problems, they will be addressedquickly. If past history is any indicator of future performance, the future looks promising. All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this publication has been obtained by sources The Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) considers to be reliable but is not warranted by ESG. This publication may contain opinions of ESG, which are subject to change from time to time. This publication is copyrighted by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. Any reproduction or redistribution of this publication, in whole or in part, whether in hard-copy format, electronically, or otherwise to persons not authorized to receive it, without the express consent of the Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc., is in violation of U.S. copyright law and will be subject to an action for civil damages and, if applicable, criminal prosecution. Should you have any questions, please contact ESG Client Relations at (508) 482-0188. © 2011 Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.