NEC is expanding its midrange storage line with a new iSCSI array aimed at companies with mid-sized storage needs.

The D3i is an iSCSI counterpart to NEC's D3 Fibre Channel system and is designed for enterprises that have medium-sized storage needs but don't need Fibre Channel. It has been on sale since April but is being formally announced this week. A minimum configuration with three 500GB drives is priced starting at US$6,406. The system can scale up to 144TB of capacity, with a price of about $100,000.

Although Internet Protocol (IP) storage network technologies such as iSCSI are gaining in popularity, Fibre Channel still dominates in large enterprises.

For its next-generation storage platform, coming in early or mid-2010, NEC is looking at offering both types of interfaces in the same system, though it hasn't heard demand for that from customers, said Josh Eddy, product marketing manager for the Advanced Storage Products Group of NEC Corp. of America.

Also this week, NEC will introduce thin provisioning capability for its D8 enterprise platform, the first of NEC's storage platform to get that capability. Thin provisioning allows administrators to provision storage capacity for a particular purpose without having to buy and install the entire amount at once. It is a software option for the D8 that costs about $8,300. NEC hasn't yet seen demand for thin provisioning in its other products, Eddy said.