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Dell Takes EMC NAS Box to Middle Ground

Dell is taking network-attached storage (NAS) to its midrange customers, courtesy of a device made by EMC.

The co-branded Dell/EMC NS500G serves files for applications like file sharing, computing clusters and Web content serving. The device is what industry vendors call a NAS gateway, letting data administrators consolidate data from different systems on one pool of data called a storage area network (SAN) .

Organizations tend to implement NAS for file-based applications and SAN for block-based applications. But using two disparate architectures almost doubles the cost and certainly doubles the complexity of the storage network.

Gateways were fashioned to solve this dilemma at a time when the glut of corporate data, including e-mail files and portable document files (PDF), grow exponentially. Network Appliance, EMC and IBM are among the competing vendors who offer NAS gateways to accommodate customer demands for simplified data management.

Dell wants a piece of that action, which is why the NS500G NAS gateway is built to let users share file and block data in one storage pool, said Praveen Asthana, director of Dell storage. Specifically, the device is designed to serve files while sitting in front of midrange Clariion SAN systems from EMC.

"What we're doing is leveraging our partnership with EMC to provide a product for the customer that leverages existing investments in SAN," Asthana said in an interview. "It really improves the utilization of the storage because the more pools of storage you have the more likely they are to be underutilized."

Asthana also said offering such a gateway will give Dell an advantage over "sheet metal" NAS boxes that have limits to how much the storage can be scaled. He said that leveraging a SAN backend offers clients a lot more scalability, one of the core tenets of Dell's enterprise strategy.

The NS500G, which will be priced and shipped next quarter, provides CIFS , NFS and iSCSI support from one console. It also runs up to 25,000 operations per second and stores up to 32 terabytes of data.

EMC, which has been offering the NS500 and NS500G since August, recently conducted its own NAS refresh. The company EMC week beefed up its NAS portfolio with the Celerra NSX NAS server, a high-end NAS box that revs up to 300,000 network file system operations per second.

The NS500G is just the latest brick to be laid on a path Dell and EMC have been on since 2001, where Dell resells EMC systems under the joint Dell/EMC brand.

EMC generally sells the products as standalone systems. Dell's model is a bit different. Asthana said Dell tries to push customers toward full systems, including servers, storage and services.