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The Overland Storage N2000 - Rich in features but stays sensitive in Price

It is no secret that small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are still keeping their belts tight in the face of the economic slowdown that has occurred. This is forcing them to change how they do business which means bringing in the right technologies to make sure their employees can still get their work done. As they do, more are bound to find the Overland Storage SnapServer N2000 the right technology to help them meet this objective.


A survey produced, a self-described Internet phone service for small business, reports what most SMBs already know: it is becoming increasingly rare to have all of their employees in a single office

Many SMBs are cutting back on office space and instead encouraging their employees to work offsite in their home or shared offices. In addition, many are leveraging part-time employees or contractors to do specialized or non-business critical tasks.
 
The challenge in this environment is that it becomes difficult to identify the right technology to accommodate the needs of this increasingly diverse and distributed workforce. One such challenge is identifying a storage solution that can securely store and share information between all of these different individuals so they can do their respective jobs but that does not break the budget of the SMB.

The common technology response to meeting this challenge is to use Network Attached Storage (NAS). However the trouble with using NAS in this new environment is that most NAS solutions that SMBs can afford are not really designed to meet these enterprise requirements.
 
Most NAS devices in their price range are consumer-grade in feature functionality. They have been primarily developed and marketed to individuals who are more concerned with storing the most recent iTune download or pictures from Aunt Suzie's birthday.

The type of NAS features that SMBs need - availability, flexibility, reliability, and scalability - are available but lack the one feature that they do need: affordability. To get enterprise features means they need to spend enterprise like dollars and most do not have $40K in their budget to purchase an enterprise caliber NAS solution that meet their higher end requirements. As a result they often settle for a sub $10K NAS solution that is more appropriately labeled as a consumer grade device.

The good news for SMBs is that they now have a new option. New to the sub $10K NAS market is the Overland Storage's SnapServer N2000. In addition to rounding out Overland Storage's own range of NAS solutions, it more importantly provides these SMBs the extra functionality that they have been looking for at a price point amenable to their budget.

The SnapServer N2000 offers:
  • A storage-optimized Linux platform. This is a feature an SMB is not apt to see on any other NAS appliances in this price range. The OS on the N2000 is GuardianOS is a 6th generation NAS operating system that is well beyond basic OSes found on other NAS appliances.
GuardianOS includes wizard driven menus that help guide SMBs through the installation and creation of storage volumes as well as offers a web-based management console to assist them in managing it.
By providing its own optimized operating system Overland is able to contain its costs and maintain complete control over the feature set on its NAS offerings. Other NAS platforms in this price range usually have pre-packaged OSes so they are subject to more limited feature sets plus they are forced to wait for the providing operating system vendor, such as Microsoft, to add desired or needed features, if they become available at all.
  • Storage flexibility and scalability. The base SnapServer N2000 unit comes with 4 drives though SMBs are not locked into a specific drive type. The N2000 gives SMBs the freedom to choose between either desktop or enterprise SATA drives in 1 and 2 TB capacities.
Further those SMBs that have performance sensitive applications such as Exchange or SharePoint can opt for lower capacity 300 or 600 GB SAS drives that support higher 15K RPM speeds.  The N2000 also gives SMBs the flexibility to expand to a 12-drive system that can scale to as much as 144TB utilizing SnapServer E2000 expansion units if storage capacity is a concern.
Because SMBs are bound to have some applications that need both capacity (archiving or backups)and performance (Exchange Server, SQL Server, VMware) SMBs may mix both high performing SAS drives and higher capacity SATA drives in the same base system  to meet these different application requirements.
  • Enterprise level system availability. The N2000 comes with the type of high availability features typically only found on enterprise NAS systems. It includes hot swappable drives, redundant power supplies and variable hot-swappable fans.
  • Complete integration with either Microsoft Windows or UNIX environments. A Linux based platform is sometimes a red flag to SMB users. But unlike other NAS solutions in this price range that use Linux, GuardianOS does not use kludgy workarounds to integrate with Microsoft environments.
It is fully compatible with Microsoft Active Directory Services (ADS) as well as UNIX Network Information Service (NIS) so it can be managed as other network devices and information securely shared using accepted and understood network security standards.
  • Centralized management and DR. SMBs have the same needs for instant backup and recovery as well as disaster recovery that enterprises have. The SnapServer N2000 has a robust feature set to deliver on these requirements to include replication, snapshot functionality at both the file and block levels, and the ability to manage multiple SnapServer devices from its integrated SnapServer Manager console.
No one disputes that times are tough but necessity is the mother of invention and the continuing tough economic climate is spurring needed innovation in this entry level of the storage market. The SnapServer N2000 is one such example.
 
Overland Storage brings forward its already mature GuardianOS software, adds in enterprise storage system features like multiple tiers of storage, high availability and support for mixed workloads, and stays price sensitive in the process. This means that SMBs that have developed enterprise-like storage requirements but thought they needed to purchase a consumer grade storage system now have a storage solution that is built and priced specifically for them.
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