Please, no more storage forecasts

Small businesses can’t look too far away to future products

In my line of work, having timely information is essential. We all like to know about new products sooner rather than later, and especially before they are released.

Nevertheless, I often ask myself, when is soon too soon. This happens often, as companies announce a product months -- if not by a year or more -- before its release to market and is a sin common to many vendors but seen as such only when someone else is the perpetrator.

Are prospects really benefiting from knowing that Vendor X is going to release Product Y 10 months from now? Should we regard those early announcements as battle cries having the ultimate objective of confusing prospects and intimidating competitors?

Alas, there is no simple answer to that, and to be fair we should probably assess the vendor’s intention and how it serves customers’ interest case by case, but there is a general rule that we can draw from.

Regardless of the vendor's best intentions, a product announcement delivered too early in the game may excite the curiosity of some large customers, but it usually meets a wall of indifference among SMBs (small to midsize businesses).

The reason for that is a completely different approach and timing in the decision process. Large corporations often can afford the leisurely time of a waltz, whereas smaller companies march to the tempo of a drumbeat.

How this relates to storage should be clear: As more large vendors move their aim to the SMB target, they should also reconsider its timing for product announcements or risk those customers losing interest and turning to providers offering that needed solution today.

This brings me to a new backup appliance from Breece Hill. The iStoRa 4000, developed for SMBs, is not due sometime next year; it is actually available for purchase as you read this.

The new appliance belongs to a category that goes by a horrific, albeit successful, acronym, d2d2t (disk-to-disk-to-tape) and promises to combine the benefits of NAS devices and tape autoloaders.

You probably can already get the idea of how it works. If not, visualize a 4U box that -- with a previous installation of a client agent on each application server and writing some data protection rules -- can automatically and quickly backup your files via GbE to disk, tape, or both.

The iStoRa 4000 includes both disk and tape media for backups, mounting six large SATA (Serial ATA) drives that total a nominal capacity of 1.5TB. The appliance has room only for one tape and 10 cartridge slots, but you can choose the format that better suits your capacity and performance needs among popular half-inch drives.

You won’t have to choose a backup application, because the Breece Hill appliance includes its own data protection software. The company doesn't charge a license fee for each client, thus significantly reducing the cost a company must pay to acquire the appliance.

In addition, you can install multiple appliances and define rules to transfer your protected files automatically between them and across the network.

At a starting price at slightly less than $20,000, it shouldn’t take long to make a decision about purchasing the iStoRa. Breece Hill also offers a more expensive version that supports backups to WORM (write-once read-many)-compliant tape media. But even on that model, in accordance with SMB practices, you should be able to make up your mind immediately -- not in the months or years to come.