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Netgear Rolls Flexible Storage, Switches For SMBs

Portfolio includes simplifies storage for supporting virtualization, multisite backup, and disaster recovery, plus managed switches with lots of LAN features at affordable prices.

Daniel Dern

November 5, 2010

7 Min Read

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

(click image for larger view)
Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Netgear announced Friday several products aimed at making storage, backup, and recovery easier and more affordable for small to midsize businesses, and for branch and remote offices of larger companies.

The new products include the ReadyNAS Pro family of business storage products, ReadyNAS Replicate software, and the ProSafe Plus Switch family of managed switches.

The new ReadyNAS Pro family consists of two-bay, four-bay, and six-bay desktop systems. According to the company, Netgear's new ReadyNAS Pro provides storage capabilities suitable for use within reliable small-scale virtualization projects, affordable disk-based backup applications, and hybrid cloud services, as well as hybrid disk/cloud-based backup and recovery, and traditional fileserving.

"Netgear's new ReadyNAS Pro family are entry-level products designed and built for business users, not prosumers," said Drew Meyer, director of storage marketing at Netgear.

Features that distinguish these from consumer-oriented products, according to Meyer, include using enterprise SATA drives, which, said Meyer, "typically have twice the (mean time between failures) of consumer drives, and let us put a five-year warranty on the system." Other business-class features include a free 12-month, 100-GB ReadyNAS Vault cloud archive subscription for online file archive and disaster recovery; ReadyNAS Remote, an automatic virtual private network (VPN) service for secure remote access; and certifications for leading third-party software.

The certifications include VMware Ready certification for vSphere; Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 certification for Hyper-V; Veeam and Vizioncore backup software compatibility for virtual environments; Acronis and StorageCraft backup software compatibility for mixed physical/virtual environments; and, according to Netgear, "the only officially supported Symantec Backup Exec agent in this product class."

"For example, if you want to use VMware virtualization to improve application reliability in a remote office, you need network storage, and the ReadyNAS Pro has the certifications," said Meyer.

"This product family is designed specifically for companies with less than 500 employees, as well as other businesses, seeking 'smart IT' solutions -- ones that are reliable, simple, and affordable," said Meyer.

The ReadyNAS Pro family is available now for pre-order (shipping towards the end of November). Product MSRP varies based on storage capacity, starting at $699 for a ReadyNAS Pro 2 with two 1-TB drives, up to $3,999 for ReadyNAS Pro 6 with six 2-TB drives.

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

(click image for larger view)
Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Netgear also announced ReadyNAS Replicate, a software application that simplifies multi-site backup, restore, and disaster recovery in businesses and enterprise branch offices among ReadyNAS Pro systems that are running the software.

ReadyNAS Replicate provides a single interface which can manage multiple ReadyNAS Pro systems that are running Replicate for tasks like scheduling multi-site backup jobs and restoring files across locations. According to Netgear, using ReadyNAS Replicate at multiple sites can "reduce operational costs and standardize disaster recovery."

In an October report, Gartner analyst Jim Browning stated, "One of the primary actions planned through the first half of 2011 by a number of midsize businesses is to implement new or expanded geographically dispersed backup sites for disaster recovery purposes."

Because VPN software is already built in, "A ReadyNAS Pro doesn't need third-party software, WAN configuration, or VPN setup," said Meyer. "With ReadyNAS Pro systems at remote 'edge' sites, you can be sure they are backed up, or you can use the remote systems for disaster recovery."

ReadyNAS Replicate is available immediately; MSRP $199 for use on Netgear desktop ReadyNAS two-, four-, and six-bay Pro and Ultra families.

ProSafe Plus Managed Switches

Netgear also introduced its new ProSafe Plus family of managed switches, which consist of two eight-port desktop switches, the GS108E and GS108PE; a 16-port desktop switch, the GS116E; and a rack-mounted 24-port switch, the JGS524E.

Switches, a.k.a. network switches or Ethernet switches, connect network segments. "Unmanaged" switches are Ethernet switches with no configuration interface or options; they simply switch traffic among the ports, and are the least expensive type of network switch. "Managed" switches add monitoring, configuration, and control, done via a web browser or serial interface.

According to Netgear, the new ProSafe Plus family of managed switches are designed for growing businesses, to "let businesses handle and manage growing amounts of local network traffic."

Features of the new Netgear ProSafe Plus switches include built-in cable test support, quality of service (QoS) prioritization, and virtual LAN (VLAN) configuration for network segmentation -- all within 10% of the cost of an otherwise-comparable unmanaged switch, according to Maggie Wu, product line manager, SMB switching products, Netgear.

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

(click image for larger view)
Netgear ReadyNAS Pro

Unmanaged switches are traditionally found and used in small businesses, branch offices, retail shops, and restaurants, as well as in conference rooms, lobby, and lab areas, and some home offices, according to Wu. However, these LANs are now connecting not just desktop and laptop computers, but also wireless access points printers, servers, storage devices, voice over IP (VoIP) phones, IP cameras, and other gear, said Wu, "and these have more diverse and sophisticated network requirements than traditional unmanaged switches can provide. We feel that switches for these locations need more intelligence and reliability."

Also, noted Wu, "Our survey shows that customers are capable of setting up the features on these switches, it's as easy or easier than setting up a home wireless access point."

"This is an inevitable evolution of the market, since the main difference between a managed and unmanaged switch is software plus maybe a few dollars more hardware," stated Craig Mathias, Principal at Farpoint Group, a technology advisory firm. "There's a lot of value for small businesses, where the networks are being asked to do more. It only takes using one feature once to pay for itself."

All four ProSafe Plus switches have Gigabit Ethernet (GigE); the GS108PE eight-port switch also includes 802.3af power-over-Ethernet (PoE). The GS108PE is the first in the ProSafe Plus switch family to provide PoE.

PoE provides enough power through the LAN cabling to run devices like security cameras, VoIP desksets, wireless access points, and remote switches to get their power through the LAN cabling rather than needing separate electric. (PoE-enabled endpoints can take their power directly from the cable; otherwise, the device's power port can be connected to the LAN cabling via a PoE "splitter.")

The QoS prioritization in the ProSafe Plus switches lets a company prioritize traffic by port or by type of data, so -- for example -- streaming video can be prevented from interfering with crucial business tasks.

The cable test feature lets the company detect cable loops without needing to eliminate separate network diagnostic tools that often cost hundreds of dollars. Cable loops, if not detected and fixed, can cause broadcast storm that interfere with network performance.

VLAN support lets the company separate traffic into virtual network segments, such as for a guest Wi-Fi network "walled off" from the rest of the company network.

The ProSafe Plus switches also provide automatic protection against denial-of-service (DoS) attacks, as well as traffic monitoring and control.

The new switches are fanless, operating quietly enough that they can be placed in open work areas, and have power-saving features that can reduce power consumption by up to 70% compared to unmanaged switches.

The GS108E (MSRP $85) and the GS108PE (starting at $175 with four PoE ports) are available now. The GS116E (MSRP starting at $196) and the JGS524E (MSRP starting at $289) will be available at the end of November.

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About the Author(s)

Daniel Dern


Daniel P. Dern is an independent technology and business writer. He can be reached via email at [email protected]; his website, www.dern.com; or his technology blog, TryingTechnology.com

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