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Promise Adds SMB Storage Devices

RAID manufacturer steps up to small business market with two NAS units targeted to companies dissatisfied with consumer or SOHO options.

Promise Technology on Thursday unveiled a new lineup of network attached storage (NAS) devices built specifically for the small business market.

The four-bay NS4700 and six-bay NS6700 represent a step up for the company's SmartStor line, according to product manager Billy Harrison. Promise is targeting businesses with around 50 to 200 employees. Harrison added that storage designed for consumer, prosumer, and SOHO needs -- all segments that Promise already serves -- simply don't cut it when put the test of heavier business workloads.

"Even though you see people in SMBs trying to use them, they're not suitable, really, for the SMB market," Harrison said in an interview. "This would be our true first product that can be used in a real SMB environment."

The NSX700 line has capacity up to 2TB. Both units run on the Intel Atom Processor and include dual GigaBit Ethernet ports. The four-bay device lists at $899, while the six-bay goes for $1,099. Harrison was quick to point out that those prices are MSRP, and that it's not uncommon to find retailers and other channels offering lower prices in the marketplace.

Promise joins Drobo as another storage vendor with a consumer heritage that has recently made a formal move into the SMB market. For Promise, the move into the SMB market wasn't so much a marketing decision as a product development one: It simply wanted to build units with more performance and power than some of its lower-end consumer options.

"It's more about us evolving our product line than it was about introducing the product at a particular time into any particular market," Harrison said. The up-market shift was also motivated by a some key vertical markets that demanded more powerful storage. Harrison said video surveillance has been a growing customer market for the company, as has the high-end home theater market. He added that the company may continue to build bigger storage devices targeting larger companies down the line

The upper end of roughly 200 employees for the new line, according to Harrison, was defined in part because the new products can support up to 64 users simultaneously -- in his view, user groups that might be typical at a 200-person company would never jeopardize the performance of the units.

On the backup front, the NSX700 line enables NAS-to-NAS redundancy between two units, which Harrison said has been a popular approach for redundancy with its previous four-bay model.

The SMB units also offer support for Amazon's S3 Web Storage service. Though it has no formal deal with Amazon -- PROMISE simply exposed the API and users set up accounts with Amazon independently -- it gives customers a relatively seamless method to back up their data in the cloud.

"One of the biggest problems I'd say that we have right now is users that use a NAS as a central storage and then don't back it up," Harrison said. "Drives are the weakest link." Harrison said that customers that put critical data on a NAS device and then use the cheapest possible drives -- such as desktop drives - are begging for data disasters.

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