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i365 takes storage appliance route

Services company i365, owned by Seagate, packages its data protection software with Nexsan storage system to create appliance for SMBs.

i365, Seagate Technology LLC's storage services subsidiary, today launched a disk appliance with storage, backup and other data protection features built in for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

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The EVault Plug-n-Protect is available as a direct-attached storage (DAS)- or SAN-attached rack-mount Dell Inc. PowerEdge server with Seagate's 1 TB SATA drives and Nexsan Technologies Inc. storage systems. i365 offers a 3U 6 TB entry-level model, a 3U 12 TB standard model and a 4U 12 TB high-capacity model. A 12 TB expansion pack is also available for the high-capacity model. Nexsan SATABoy systems are used in the entry-level and standard models, and the larger SATABeast is the storage system for the high-capacity model.

The standard system includes EVault software for backup, bare-metal restore, data deduplication and a GUI management console. EVault Real Time Protection, i365's continuous data protection (CDP) software, is also included in the high-capacity model.

i365 sells its products through several business models, including Software as a Service (SaaS), managed services (the company operates 10 data centers in the U.S. and Europe), software-only and the all-in-one appliance.

The EVault Plug-n-Protect is available now through i365's direct sales force or channel partners.

The all-in-one device starts at $35,000, which the company claims is close to 40% less than the cost of purchasing the components separately. One year of free support and maintenance is included with the 6 TB model, and three years of support and maintenance come with the 12 TB model. A three-year support package is available for the 6 TB model, starting at $8,000. All models include a three-year hardware warranty.

The 6 TB product includes 10 agents that are placed on the devices to be protected. The agents support a number of OSes, including Novell NetWare, Solaris and IBM i. The standard 12 TB model includes 20 agents, and the high-capacity 12 TB model comes with 35 agents.

The EVault Plug-n-Protect uses plug-ins for application support. It supports a number of well-known business applications, including VMware, Oracle, and Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server. The 6 TB appliance has five plug-ins, the 12 TB standard model has 10 plug-ins and the high-capacity 12 TB product has 15 plug-ins.

"Our customers are often asking us for a much faster and easier way to deploy the technology in these times," said Valerie Fawzi, i365's senior director of product marketing. "They are much more resource-constrained, and they really want to make their technology purchases as seamless as possible."

Stephanie Balaouras, Forrester Research Inc. principal analyst, agrees that the appliance model is catching on.

"I've seen growing interest in the appliance approach to both backup and replication," she said. "I think people like the idea of an all-in-one appliance."

Balaouras said i365's flexible go-to-sales market strategy could be a differentiator for the storage services company and its partners.

"The fact that they offer SaaS, on-premise software and managed services gives organizations a lot more flexibility," she said. "i365 has a lot of competitors in different areas but not many companies that do exactly what it does across the board."

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