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Amax Touts Easy To Configure, Inexpensive NAS Line For SMB

Posted by iTech - 2006-03-06

Amax Information Technologies is expanding its custom- built storage business, adding new NAS technology it promises will be easy for small business VARs to configure as well as high-end storage servers for larger customers.

The Fremont, Calif.-based distributor and custom systems builder actually has three product lines in the works. A small business NAS based on technology from Open-E, a SOHO NAS, and higher-end series of servers and storage devices that support Serial-attached SCSI.

The new product lines gives Amax the ability to offer storage from the enterprise to the home office, said James Huang, product marketing specialist.

"Our goal is to have a wide selection of servers and storage for our VARs and customers," Huang said.

AMAX just started shipping a line based on technology from Hamburg, Germany-based Open-E that Huang believes will make it easy for VARs to set up and configure NAS products quickly. Open-E developed several firmware modules that plug into an IDE slot on virtually any server motherboard and converts it into storage device. VARs can build a NAS or iSCSI appliance, depending on which firmware module is used.

AMAX is selling branded and white boxes as well as the modules for VARs that want to assemble their own appliances.

AMAX President Jean Shih said AMAX tested software from a variety of vendors before settling on Open-E. "It's an enterprise-level product, easy to use and compatible with other vendors' product."

It is also less expensive than Microsoft's Windows Storage Server operating system which many storage vendors and customer builders, including Amax, use, said Shih. "Open-E has a very good chance to gain market share against Microsoft," she said.

Prices of the Open-E-based appliance start at about $1,500. A 2u, 12-bay iSCSI solution with drives would carry a street price of about $7,998, said Huang.

For smaller businesses and the SOHO market, Amax is building two-bay and four-bay NAS appliances from Thecus, an offshoot of Taiwan motherboard maker Abit Computer. Those models, which started shipping this month, are preassembled basic NAS boxes that designed to be extremely easy to set up. Street price for four-bay model with drives will start around $1,000, said Huang, while a two-bay chassis without drives will start at about $300.

AMAX later this month also plans to launch higher-end serial-attached SCSI storage servers, using CPUs from Intel or Advanced Micro Devices. Those products will be available in 1u chassis with four drive bays up to to 4u chassis and with 24 drive bays, said Huang. The company looking into building SAS NAS and iSCSI appliances based on Open-E for the high end.

Huang said AMAX's storage business grew 20 to 30 pecent last year and expects the new NAS products to help the company increase sales by another 10 to 20 percent this year.

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