SANensemble is a package of DataCore's SAN virtualisation software and Overland Storage's ULTAMUS disk array product.

It contains two copies of DataCore's SANmelody product for fault tolerance. SANmelody includes automatic virtual capacity that thin provisions and optimises storage utilisation. There are also two ULTAMUS RAID serial-attached SCSI (SAS) storage arrays providing non-stop management and protection of all stored data via active RAID controllers. It scales from 3TB to 60TB – sufficient for probably the most demanding of mid-sized businesses.

There is a huge amount of activity geared to providing storage for small and medium businesses. NetApp has its StoreVault line. IBM and HP have their products. StorMagic has just announced its offering. Dell has recently introduced new kit. The vendors take a networked storage approach and offer iSCSI storage area networks (SANs) or network-attached storage (NAS) filers.

Iomega, for example, has just introduced new filers.

Techworld asked Chris James, EMEA marketing director at Overland Storage, some questions to learn more about the new package.

TW: Why have you brought the bundle out?

Chris James: The Overland and DataCore bundle offers a beefy, one-stop SAN virtualisation appliance that can scale to meet SMEs' growing demands for business continuity and capacity. The SANensemble has been developed to address the fundamental storage concerns of mid-sized organisations – management; protection; control; and automated provisioning or capacity management.

TW: What does it give you that others don’t have?

Chris James: Enterprise functionality at a low price point. This kind of solution is simply not available at a comparable cost and we believe this will make the offering incredibly compelling for SMEs.

TW: What are the products that it is competing against?

Chris James: Traditional hardware manufacturers’ proprietary enterprise solutions such as NetApp, HP, IBM, and EMC.

TW: What are its strengths and weaknesses compared to these other products?

Chris James: The big plus point of this bundle is that it’s offering enterprise class technology at a midrange price. It enables SME customers to buy into technology that had previously only been available to organisations with greater spending power but not necessarily more business critical data. The combination of Overland’s proven appliances and DataCore’s virtualisation expertise gives a price performance solution that cannot be bettered.

TW: Why will customers like it?

Chris James: Because it enables them to deliver improved service and protection while keeping closer control and centralised management. IT departments are under constant pressure to reduce costs, yet deliver against ever-increasing service-level agreements (SLAs) and, with thin provisioning, SANmelody improves the utilisation of existing capacity, and causes a dramatic reduction of administrative efforts.

It provides synchronous mirroring and auto failover for path and data, resulting in high availability for business critical systems. It also facilitates effective load-balancing and is backed by auto recovery should one SAN server fail.

TW: Do you think it is going to set a trend?

Chris James: Possibly. It’s certainly a viable alternative to the high-cost appliance boxes that are on the market today.

TW: Will other bundles be likely to come out?

Chris James: Almost certainly. Based on the success of this appliance we expect to see an expansion towards the enterprise sector, offering even higher capacities and greater performance.

TW comment: The provision of enterprise-class features at mid-range prices is a traditional tactic used by enterprise suppliers as they tailor their products for smaller customers which buy from resellers and storage system houses.

Overland has sold many thousands of tape and virtual tape NEO and REO products and DataCore has thousands of customers for its SAN products. The combination of the two company's offerings should provide a capable and attractive product package for SME-type organisations to make a first foray into networked storage.