Nexsan has introduced a new searchable Assureon SA disk-based archive appliance for under £40,000 ($75,000).

Up to 20 million documents can be stored and retrieved through a browser interface. The appliance contents are fully searchable and Windows PCs or Unix/Linux/Windows servers access it through standard CIFS or NFS interfaces. Nexsan is targeting the fixed content storage requirements of medium and small enterprises. Existing Nexsan Assureon archive products don't have a search capability.

The archive uses content-addressed storage whereby files are broken up into encoded fragments, known as hash-addressed blocks. This ensures single instance storage and increases the archive's capacity by eliminating duplicate files. Adding a search capability means that archive contents can be located by the usual file owner, date, etc, type of metadata or by using key words and phrases.

The ongoing increase in compliance and regulatory requirements and legal discovery activity puts a premium on a business' ability to search its stored data and find files relevant to particular inquiries. The search capability increases file location efficiency.

Results are shown as summarised excerpts with the query terms highlighted. Nexsan also provides document-level security: users will only see documents that their position allows them to see. The product also has constant monitoring of file integrity, file authentication, missing file alerts, and support for remote replication. The Assureon SA has built in lifecycle management features that enable IT Administrators to set policies that automatically delete stored files when their retention period expires.

Data integrity and security is achieved through RAID 6 protection, which prevents the risk of data loss even if two drives fail, and write-once-read-many (WORM) disk functionality that provides non-erasable, non-rewritable data storage.

During a legal discovery, the Assureon SA can flag files as being protected for legal privilege and is able to freeze all relevant material during a legal hold. It has the ability to export files to external media which means discovery data sets can be delivered to legal firms.

An AutoMAID power-saving technology idles disks that are not being used and means the device uses less power.

Mark Bowker, an Enterprise Strategy Group analyst, said: "ESG's Digital Archiving report shows a 65 percent CAGR of all archived data between 2007 and 2010. By leveraging CAS technology to store files, images, recordings, email, and other fixed content as objects with a secure and unique universal identifier, small business users now have another option apart from traditional file system models. With the latest Assureon Archive Appliances, Nexsan has delivered solutions that are easy enough to use," by small and medium businesses.

For companies simply wanting secure CAS archiving capability without the search functionality there is the Assureon NX product. It features higher usable capacity - the file indexing space isn't needed - and a lower overall price point. Both appliances are available in standalone or replicated versions. Assureon NX pricing starts at £26,500 and at £35,000 for the SA. This is a fraction of the cost of Centera disk-based archives from EMC.