Sold on storage

Network attached storage (NAS) is gradually making a name for itself as the storage technology of choice amongst end-users in the Middle East. With storage vendors excited about the capabilities and simplicity offered by the technology, Channel Middle East examines the steady rise in popularity of NAS and asks what it means for the reseller channel.

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By  Administrator Published  June 1, 2007

NAS remains a technology synonymous with mature markets. Yet while regions such as Europe and the US lead the way when it comes to deployment, the Middle East is quickly following suit. Storage experts forecast that the Middle East market for NAS is set to grow between 30% and 40% in the next year.

Dubai-based storage reseller StoreTech claims it is seeing blanket demand for its NAS solutions in the GCC. "We have a wide spread of users, from four-user organisations to 4,000-user organisations," commented Anil Gupta, managing director at StoreTech. "Any network is the right candidate for NAS. If you want to refer data, modify things or back-up data, NAS is the best solution."

Although demand for NAS is being generated from a diverse range of customers, its deployment, until now, has still been more sluggish than some would have liked.

In site offices, you can leave servers unattended because NAS doesn’t need human resources.There are firms that deploy 6TB storage that don’t even have an IT manager.

PC and server vendor Dell reckons the rudimentary IT infrastructures that many businesses in the region possess is culpable for this dilemma. "Customers are still looking at one server and one application in this region," observed Kevin Pickford, enterprise systems consultant at Dell. "So the deployment of NAS in the Middle East has been quite slow in comparison to other regions."

That said, NAS is being used in multiple sectors across the Middle East region, according to Mohammed Amin, general manager MENA at storage vendor EMC. "It is becoming the de facto technology for businesses in the energy sector, engineering firms, and for video rendering and editing," he asserted. "Because of their application nature, NAS is the most efficient way of accessing and managing core business information. These business environments require fast, reliable and predictable access to their information, while ensuring data protection and availability."

One storage channel source cites Egypt as the market with the most potential for NAS, arguing that its infrastructure is sophisticated enough for the technology's deployment, even if the market isn't yet ready. "Egypt is technically a mature enough market to deploy NAS - they are already starting to do that, but I think the market knowledge is a little immature to understand the benefits."

Technology powerhouse HP reckons the GCC is really grasping its range of NAS solutions. "Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar are all investing in IT - especially amongst SMBs," said Ashraf Helmy, marketing manager for the vendor's Middle East StorageWorks division. "In the NAS space we have our all-in-one storage server solution targeting the mid-size and SMBs, and the ‘NAS for the family', which is positioned at entry-level, up to the enterprise customers that require services that we can integrate with SAN solutions," said Helmy.

Consolidation of servers is a trend being witnessed in the region. Previously, servers were only being consolidated amongst enterprise customers running high-end technology infrastructures. But as the trend of consolidation seeps into other areas of the market, NAS is commonly being installed alongside it. Helmy said: "NAS plays a part in our ‘simply consolidation' scheme. We are targeting consolidation not only on an enterprise level, but also on an SMB level."

Guru Prasad, business development manager at Sun distributor Tech Access, concurs that such businesses are realising that procuring a centralised, scalable and easy to deploy box can help them consolidate. "That's the overall reason - consolidation is all about the ease of use, simplicity and reducing complexity in the network, so this is the typical area in which we are seeing deployment of NAS," he revealed.

The key driver of NAS is its simplicity to deploy. It negates complex planning, and vendors and distributors alike admit that a reseller doesn't need to possess a great deal of expertise in storage to deploy NAS.

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