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EMC beefs up midtier storage

The data storage giant plans to unveil a set of network-attached storage products, including a device that runs Microsoft's new storage operating system.

Data storage giant EMC on Wednesday plans to unveil a set of network-attached storage products, including a device that runs Microsoft's new storage operating system.

EMC said the new network-attached storage (NAS) products are geared to the middle tier of the market, meaning small and medium-size businesses as well as departments within larger organizations. NAS devices are dedicated computers that serve up files and data to computer users on a network.

Spending on NAS machines declined last year to $1.54 billion but is projected to bounce back to $1.77 billion this year and jump to $3.17 billion in 2007, according to research firm IDC. EMC was the leader in NAS revenue in the second quarter of 2002, but it slipped behind rival Network Appliance in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC.

Jim Holley, director of NAS platforms at EMC, said the company has tended to focus on the higher end of the market. But it's now broadening its aim. "Our strategy is to fire on all fronts--high end, midtier and entry level," he said.

Its new products include the EMC NetWin 200 NAS system running Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 and a midtier NAS device called the Celerra NS600S.

The company also introduced the Celerra NS600G. This device does not contain storage capacity itself, but it can act as a "gateway" to a storage area network (SAN), which is a network of storage devices often used by larger organizations. The NS600G adds file-serving capabilities to a SAN, according to the company.

It also announced the availability of high-capacity, lower-cost ATA disk drives in both Celerra NS600 systems and Celerra CNS clustered environments, which involve a higher-end NAS gateway and a number of linked EMC Clariion storage devices. Those NAS products have used faster but more costly disk drives using Fibre Channel technology.

SAN and NAS are the two broad categories of what's called networked storage. This approach to data storage differs from the traditional method of attaching storage resources directly to computers. Networked storage is meant to let organizations use storage capacity more efficiently. They also can take advantage of sophisticated data-protection features.

Disk storage system spending overall slipped in the second quarter, according to IDC. But revenue from networked storage systems grew 7.5 percent year over year, to $1.78 billion.

EMC is the latest storage device maker to introduce a NAS product that runs Windows Storage Server 2003, an upgrade to an earlier Windows operating system used for NAS. Others companies making NAS boxes with the new Windows storage operating system include Hewlett-Packard and Dell.

EMC said all the new NAS products are immediately available. The U.S. list price for the NS600S with a capacity of 1 terabyte is $114,000. EMC estimated the end-user price for the NetWin 200 at $32,000 for a configuration that holds 500GB.