A California maker of high-capacity low-cost RAID storage for entry-level applications has brought out a new line of data protection and storage devices to move it up market.

Promise Technology Inc. said its VTrack M-Class Serial ATA models, available now, offer hardware accelerated iSCSI

and Fibre Channel network interface arrays at the same price as SCSI and iSCSI models.

“In the last two years we have slowly moved up to the mid-range, and with this announcement we will firmly be established in the mid-range marketplace,’ said Suresh Panikar, the company’s vice-president of worldwide channel sales and marketing.

The M-Class is composed of six products in either iSCSI or Fibre Channel configurations. The M500 is a 3U 15-bay array, the M300 is a 2U 12-bay array and the M200 is a 2U 8-bay array. They are distinguished by “i” and “f” designations.

<p.All come with dual port, 3 Gigabyte per second RAID controllers, redundant power supplies and fans and EEC cache memory and storage management software. They support RAID levels 0, 1, 1E, 5, 10 and 50.

They also allow the assignment of RAID to multiple logical unit (LUN) levels, Panikar said, which he said is a unique feature. Most arrays don’t allow RAID assignments, he said to drives divided into logical partitions.

In addition, the arrays include Promises’ Predictive Data Migration, which the company said detects potential drive failures and dramatically reduces data rebuild time.

Promise sells its arrays without hard drives, giving solution providers the option of choosing SATA drives customers want. The systems accept drives from all major manufacturers.

Although many storage vendors charge a premium for Fibre Channel products, Promise is selling its iSCSI and Fibre Channel boxes for the same price. Suggested list pricing starts at US$4,199.

David Reinsell, director of storage research at IDC, said what makes the product interesting is the combination of price and features, which he said will be “approachable by many small and medium sized businesses.”

Competing products come from vendors such as Dell, which has a rebranded version of EMC’s Clariion line, Adaptec and Infotrend, Reinsell said, but also from white-box storage makers and solution providers.

Typically customers use in this class storage for non-time sensitive applications such as e-mail and data backup, Web storage and storage by news broadcasters, said Panikar.

Panikar also said Promise is looking to increase the number of resellers in Canada, which include companies such as PC Mall and Insight Direct. “We are in expansion mode worldwide,” he said. Consideration will be given to VARs who know storage and service SMB markets.

However, he said sales here still aren’t enough to justify Promise opening a Canadian office.

“We have high hopes for M-Class,” he said. “because it is targeted at a market space that is growing at a high rate.”

As for the future, “we are moving up to the enterprise class,” he said, he defined as needing high performance and interoperability with other systems.

“We are not there yet. Eventually we will get there, in a year’s time.”

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