WD’s New Storage Appliance Makes an Ideal First Server and more

As one of the two primary disk drive manufacturers in the world, Western Digital certainly knows storage products and they’re in a position to be a value leader in this NAS market as well. As a first server, WD’s line of storage appliances can provide a powerful but flexible solution for a small company’s IT needs, not just a NAS box for storing files.

Western Digital recently announced an upgrade to their DX line of small business NAS systems. These 4-disk drive appliances provide up to 16 TB of local storage capacity as well as a server platform for local and cloud-based file sharing and business services. They also run the latest version of Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials – allowing the new S-Series product to be a NAS, SAN and first server all-in-one.

Storage Server Essentials

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials is the small business version of Windows Server OS that’s designed to provide a business-class file storage device plus a true server platform to run business application software. The premise is that small businesses have IT needs requiring traditional server applications but don’t have the IT expertise or manpower to manage traditional IT infrastructures. To that end, the product is designed to be a ‘first server’ solution for these companies.

Server 2012 R2 Essentials includes a local backup application plus remote file access and server management. It’s integrated with Windows Azure for cloud backup as well as Office 365 for productivity applications. Server 2012 R2 Essentials also gives users access to a catalog of 1000s of Windows certified third party business applications including products for business management, engineering, finance, security, etc.

Hardware

The DS6100 includes an Intel Xeon quad-core processor and up to four of WD’s data center class 3.5” disk drives with built-in hardware RAID or Windows Storage Spaces, for up to 16TB of raw capacity. The system features 16GB of RAM (upgradable to 32GB ECC RAM), plus dual power supplies, dual GbE NICs and redundant boot drives. The smaller DS5100 features a dual-core Xeon processor, 8GB of RAM and a single boot drive.

Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials supports up to 25 users and 50 Windows or Mac computer clients, and can be upgraded to Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. Server services include Primary Domain host, Active Directory for users and devices and Essentials Dashboard for easy deployment. Storage services include NAS (file serving), SAN (iSCSI target) and Access Anywhere with built-in VPN. Both systems offer the same compact footprint of the DX series, just over 8” tall and 6” wide, making them easy to fit into a cramped small business environment.

Storage Swiss Take

This looks like a good follow-on to a successful product, with all the right business-class features and a robust hardware design. Their choice to leverage the Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials platform also seems to be the right one for their target market of small to medium sized businesses.

But what’s interesting is that WD told us over half of their DX series customer base was comprised of larger enterprises, companies that could certainly ‘buy bigger’ if they chose to. Some are even aggregating the capacity of multiple appliances instead of buying a more traditional data center storage system.

According to the company, the reasons for this success are the strength of the WD nameplate, the use of Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, (instead of a Linux variant as others use) and the overall value, with a price point less than $2000 for 16TB of capacity. I think this is a strong endorsement for their technology, one that should interest WD’s primary SMB target customers.

Western Digital is not a client of Storage Switzerland

Eric is an Analyst with Storage Switzerland and has over 25 years experience in high-technology industries. He’s held technical, management and marketing positions in the computer storage, instrumentation, digital imaging and test equipment fields. He has spent the past 15 years in the data storage field, with storage hardware manufacturers and as a national storage integrator, designing and implementing open systems storage solutions for companies in the Western United States.  Eric earned degrees in electrical/computer engineering from the University of Colorado and marketing from California State University, Humboldt.  He and his wife live in Colorado and have twins in college.

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