Idealstor has released a NAS storage appliance which provides both nearline and off-site storage of backups. The company claimed that the product would be cost-effective for branch offices who might otherwise have to have separate nearline and tape backup devices.

The FrankeNAS appliance has one half of its 4U rack shelf set up as a RAID 5 array of up to 1.8TB of SATA drives. Administrators backup data from servers to it and then use it as a nearline storage device. Backups to it are disk-to-disk and so much faster than tape. Restores from it occur at disk speed.

The other half of the device has 4 ATA drive arrays; its capacity ranges from 200GB to 1.6TB. Backup software running in the FrankeNAS - it is a dual Xeon Windows 2000 Server - then backs up the data from the RAID array to the removable ATA drives. Again it is a disk-to-disk backup taking place at disk speed. The ATA disks can then be removed for safe-keeping offsite and so provide a disaster recovery capability.

Ben Ginster, Idealstor's channel manager, said: “We saw ... that clients were purchasing multiple NAS devices to backup and store their data and then they were purchasing multiple tape drives or removable disk devices to backup and take that data offsite after it was staged to the NAS device. Managing multiple devices from different vendors creates an administrative nightmare for backup administrators and also takes up valuable rack space with multiple devices essentially working on the same task."

"We decided to come out with an all-in-one backup and storage appliance that would allow our clients to physically store their data in a redundant RAID 5 Array and then backup that data as they see fit to the Idealstor removable drives for offsite storage and compliance.”

It offers a cost and convenience saving over the situation where businesses backup to one or more NAS devices doing disk-to-disk, and then backup the NAS to a tape or to a removable disk unit. They can stop buying two devices and have one all-in-one backup appliance. That should save them money and will save them IT admin time as one device is simpler to manage and operate than two.

STORServer offers a backup appliance which is similar but offers its offsite facility via tape. A STORserver installation costs $10,000 (£7,000) or so.

The FrankeNAS costs from $5,995 (£4,150 inc VAT) to $19,995 (£14,000 inc VAT) depending upon its configuration.