Will Recent RAID Enhancements Mean Higher Profits For VARS?
Two executives believe the ability to upgrade RAID in the field, the need for fewer controller modules, and the ability to combine SAN and NAS will lead to new opportunities for VARs.
A customer can always buy more drives, more libraries, or more NAS (network attached storage) appliances, but from a channel perspective, a VAR rarely can make storage upgrades in the field. That situation is about to change for RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage solutions. Two RAID executives want VARs to know they now have more sales opportunities. This technology is not only more scalable and expandable, but it is also field upgradable.
One of the changes in RAID, according to Joel Tang, director of engineering for Fountain Valley, CA-based StorCase, is that an end user can purchase a box with one channel and upgrade it to four channels without having to send it back to have the work performed. "A VAR or integrator can do it right in the field," he said. "The real benefit to VARs is that they now have the opportunity to add customer sales down the road. If the customer is purchasing a one channel product and later requires two or four channels, the systems integrator is capable of doing a field upgrade." Currently, a single channel RAID can handle 15 drives. As a company's storage needs increase, multiple channels are required for performance reasons. Two channels will allow up to 30 drives, while four channels allow up to 60 drives on the same system.
Tang also noted that customers can now purchase drives at a lower cost per megabyte. In addition to that, they can also purchase an information station and one RAID controller module. "That one controller module can now manage up to eight enclosures," he said. "In the past you had to have a RAID controller module for every enclosure. Many companies simply were not able to afford RAID because the cost of one controller could run as high as $5,000. Now any company can deploy RAID cost effectively, and grow the system as its needs to grow."
John Caravello, VP of channel sales for Alpharetta, GA-based Raidtec, is also excited about the advancements. "RAID is changing, there is no doubt about that," he said. "Initially RAID was used for incremental storage to the servers. Now it has moved to a much broader marketplace that includes NAS and Fibre Channel SANs (storage area networks). The new software and management tools that are now available take RAID to a whole new level."
Attaching RAID To Networks
Caravello believes the industry is just now realizing the importance of attaching RAID storage devices to the network. "It is probably the least obtrusive way to put storage onto the system," he said. "You just give the device an IP address and away you go. There are new products that feature Fibre Channel capability as well. This allows users to expand their RAID systems up to 20 or more terabytes of storage."
Caravello thinks this provides tremendous opportunities for VARs. "With just one box, the VAR or integrator can now bridge SAN and NAS together," he said. "And combining SAN and NAS is a very hot topic right now." With many RAID products, Caravello believes VARs will also find there are some attractive pricing margins. "In the past when storage was connected directly to servers, the storage almost became a commodity product. Now NAS and Fibre Channel SANs are changing the parameters of storage. VARs have the ability to walk into a customer environment with three fully loaded guns: direct attach to the server, NAS, or Fibre Channel SANs. There are products available that let VARs address all of those markets."Questions about this article? E-mail the author at EdM@corrypub.com.