Seagate Squeezes 32TB Into 1U With Its First Rackmount Storage Appliance

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The company is convinced that small businesses are looking for high storage density

Seagate is expanding its arsenal with the addition of two new rackmount NAS solutions, offering the industry’s highest storage density in a 1U form factor.

The first, an 8-bay appliance for 3.5-inch drives, was announced in September and is already making its way to the market. The second, a smaller 4-bay version, is expected in the middle of November. Both are primarily aimed at small businesses.

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Meanwhile, Seagate executives are busy travelling around Europe on a ‘promotional tour’, highlighting the benefits of the technology made possible thanks to the acquisition of LaCie in August 2012.

“We believe that to be taken seriously in the business NAS market, we need to have rackmount,” Guillaume Polaillon, former product manager at LaCie, now working at Seagate,  told TechWeekEurope. “We are the only ones shipping this product. We have designed both hardware and software.”

Enter the rack

Seagate’s new 8-bay NAS is the company’s first rackmount appliance designed entirely in-house. It is aimed at companies with up to 250 employees and features hot-swappable drives and fans, Intel’s 2.3GHz dual core Celeron chip, 4GB of ECC RAM, dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, redundant power and cooling. The device is able to transfer files at up to 200 MB/s.

Unlike some of its competitors, Seagate decided to create the casing itself to offer “double the capacity in half the space”, as well as clever cable management and airflow features.

Polaillon believes that there’s currently a gap between consumer USB hard drives and big enterprise storage appliances from the likes of Dell and HP, and the ability to offer 32TB in a 1U rack is a genuine differentiator for Seagate, as well as a blessing for any environment where space is at a premium.

Meanwhile, the upcoming 4-bay rackmount NAS is among the shortest 1U racks on the market. It swaps enterprise-class Constellation drives for cheaper NAS branded drives, and uses an Atom instead of a Celeron, but otherwise it’s pretty much the same hardware.

On the software side, the new boxes run Seagate’s NAS OS, which provides a simple dashboard to monitor and manage storage, using the technology developed by LaCie over the last four years.

NAS OS features LaCie’s proprietary SimplyRAID configuration, similar to RAID5 but offering up to twice the capacity when using drives of different sizes, and MyNAS, which enables remote access to your storage from any device with no setup required.

As an alternative, users can register for Wuala service which offers free remote access on mobile devices, and cloud backup as a paid service with a free 5GB trial.

Seagate’s 8-bay rackmount is available from resellers, priced at $3000 for the eight terabyte model and going all the way to $6000 for the 32 terabyte model.

The 4-bay rackmount will be available later this quarter, at $1000 for the casing alone. The lowest capacity 4-terabyte model will retail at $1300, and the top 16 terabyte version will cost $2500.

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