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Iomega Brings High-End Features To Low-End Storage

The maker of Zip drives gets into network-attached storage.
Iomega Corp., best known for its Zip drive storage device, hopes its next effort is as popular. The vendor is jumping into the network-attached storage market Monday with low-priced products that offer high-end enterprise features.

The Windows-based Iomega NAS P800m and P850m servers are being tested by select customers and are slated to available later this month. The P800m, with 960 gigabytes of capacity, is priced at $12,499, and the P850m, with 1.4 terabytes of capacity, goes for $17,499. Both systems use dual 2.4-GHz Intel Xeon processors, dual Gigabit Ethernet cards, and a 10/100 Fast Ethernet interface to let users get access to files quickly. The P850m also includes an Alacritech Inc. TCP/IP Offload Engine, which boosts performance over the P800m by 20%.

Despite the low prices, the products offer the kind of features that companies require. They have RAID software to reduce the chance of lost data, hot-swappable drives, redundant power supplies, and four hot-swappable fans. ATA storage drives help keep costs down. "We're offering true hot-swappable capabilities and a PCIX bus for enhanced error correction," says Wayne Arvidson, director of network storage marketing at Iomega. "It's about enterprise features for customers."

Tester Mike Schroll, a systems administrator at the Conrad Weiser Area School District in Robesonia, Pa., has 750 PCs to worry about. He likes the administrative features in the P850m. "We use it for backup and recovery, and it's easier and faster to use it to retrieve data instead of pulling out a tape and winding the reel looking for the data," he says. The district's IT staff stores snapshots of PC hard drives on the device, letting them restore lost or damaged data within seconds, instead of the two hours it used to take.

Iomega faces stiff competition from vendors such as Dell Computer, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Network Appliance. Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steve Kenniston feels Iomega's products will appeal to small companies. "The guy with two laptops is realizing how important it is to have backup and recovery," he says.

Plus, Iomega's hiring last fall of NAS experts who formerly worked for storage vendor Maxtor Corp., which had a tight relationship with Microsoft, should help Iomega work closely with the software maker, Kenniston says. "The market is huge, and Microsoft is glad to have this kind of partner back."