Storage demand rockets in Saudi Arabia

It’s has only been in the last two years that storage strategies have come on to many company IT agendas. For the most part, it’s the region’s larger organisations that have been investing in the construction of large storage area networks (SANs), but as more organisations automate their business processes and communication organisations of all sizes are finding there is a need to deploy a storage solution in the back of the organisation.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  March 29, 2001

Page 1|~||~||~|It’s has only been in the last two years that storage strategies have come on to many company IT agendas. For the most part, it’s the region’s larger organisations that have been investing in the construction of large storage area networks (SANs), but as more organisations automate their business processes and communication organisations of all sizes are finding there is a need to deploy a storage solution in the back of the organisation.

“There is a very big demand for storage now,” says Sami Said Hassan, executive director of Al Alamiah, a Dell distributor based in Saudi Arabia. “Storage is still new in the market and everybody is trying to take the lead,” Hassan explains.
Al Alamiah is currently focusing its efforts in Saudi on its installed base of Dell servers, and delivering network attached storage (NAS) solutions for gigabytes of data rather than terabytes. But adds Hassan, “we have a lot of customers, and they are the ones that need storage, so we are going to the customers with Dell people, making presentations, and trying to educate the market… there is a big demand for (NAS) storage solutions,” he adds.

Network Appliance is also finding a great interest in the market for its NAS solutions. Since being appointed regional partner six months ago, Al Gosaibi Information Systems has shifted eight terabytes worth of NSA storage into ARAMCO and has another 24 pending sign off, says Gavin Keeler, Network Appliance division manager with the Saudi-based distributor. Although initially concentrating on the high-end clients such as ARAMCO, Al Gosaibi is now gearing up its operation to charge into the midrange market space. “We started by concentrating on some of the larger customers and now we’re looking elsewhere,” says Keeler. “Network Appliance recently launched an low end storage box for around $10,000 to $15,000, this will give us a huge opportunity at the low-end,” he adds.

According to Keeler, companies can quickly rollout NAS-based storage strategies. Rather than setting up and configuring a direct attached storage area network, NAS boxes sit as another node on the network and share and deliver data rapidly across the network. “The market is changing considerably, nobody is backing up to tape anymore, that is too slow. Companies are backing up to disk, which enables a quicker data distribution and the disks are cheaper,” says Keeler. “The file sharing software was developed after RAID, which enables it to deliver huge amounts of data quickly. A full restore can be done in just a few seconds,” Keeler claims.

To guarantee the availability of company data, the software on a Network Appliance box will make up to 31 copies of the data. Restore is also very quick, and doesn’t deteriorate the capacity of the network, says Keeler.

Although network attached storage does offer companies some benefits, end user organisations should make sure that the solution they deploy fits the needs of the business. “Both SAN and NAS have their benefits, it’s not a case of one or the other. It depends on the needs of the organisation,” says Trevor Hudson, general manager of STME.

“One solution provides a dedicated network for the data to move through, and the other moves through the existing [TC/IP] network. It really does depend on what is best for a particular company,” he adds.
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