Gateway Eyes Dell's Server Model for Storage

By Clint Boulton | Posted August 25, 2003

On Tuesday Gateway will unveil new rack storage systems and a tape drive to remind business customers it still cares for their businesses despite the company's rejiggered focus on consumer electronics.

The Poway, Calif. company, yearning to move out from under the shadow of a sluggish PC market and to gain better footing in the home entertainment sector, is sticking to its corporate customer guns with its new 850 SCSI JBOD system and 820 Linear Tape Open (LTO) Autoloader — its first foray into storage subsystems.

The Gateway 850 and Gateway 820 rack systems are both 2U in size and compatible with standard racks. The vendor hopes they will be the backbone for network-attached storage (NAS) or storage area network (SAN) products in its systems and networking portfolios.

Both products are designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) store and retrieve information. While several rivals such as IBM, HP and Dell offer similar products for storage networks, plying the market with competing products from a less established storage provider may seem ill-advised.

But Gateway is seizing on the oft-relayed detail from storage analysts that corporate data doubles every six months. Company officials are clinging to the notion that IT managers are "drowning under a flood of bits and bytes" and therefore need more help — at an attractive price point.

To this end, Gateway claims to be taking a page out of Dell's own book for selling servers by undercutting the price of competitors. This is just one approach to strategy the company is taking as it attempts to transform itself from a traditional PC maker to a "branded integrator of technology solutions."

Gateway will launch an array of branded products across a host of new categories throughout the rest of the year, and will customize those products for its consumer and business customers. Just last week, the company unveiled the Gateway 960X, a mid-range server designed for small- and midsize enterprises as well as workgroups within larger organizations.

"We want to be disruptive to Dell in storage — Dell gets 60 points for margins," said Scott Weinbrandt, general manager of the Systems and Networking Products Group at Gateway. "There's no way they should be getting away with that. We want to do for storage what Dell did for servers."

Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst Nancy Marrone-Hurley said in order for Gateway to truly compete on the high end they would also need a NAS offering and infrastructure components to create a SAN.

However, Marrone-Hurley said Gateway will now be able to sell storage as part of a low cost bundle with its PCs, which should help them be more competitive with Dell in the entry level storage market.

"The caveat is that every storage vendor has already seen the margins in storage eroding, so they are moving toward adding more value to the solution with management software and storage services (remote replication, snaps, ILM)," she continued. "Being the lowest cost isn't always going to win these days, value added services and management solutions that lower the TCO for the storage environment is what many consumers will be looking for (at least on the 'high end')."

Tim Diefenthaler, director of enterprise storage at Gateway, said customers could expect such features as snap shots and remote replications in the future as the company looks to position itself better against its rivals, who offer high-end systems to accompany SANs.

As for more specific features, the 850 SCSI JBOD, which stands for "just a bunch of disks," features a host of storage, reliability and expansion capabilities.

Gateway envisions that customers who are already deploying the Gateway 955, 975 and 995 servers will use the Gateway 850 as a vessel for spillover storage or as a component in a SAN or NAS supporting e-mail, database, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.

The Gateway 850 features as many as 12 hot-swappable Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives, supporting up to 1.7 Terabytes of data. The machine can transfer data via single or split SCSI backplanes and single- or dual-bus mode using LSI Ultra 320 SCSI controllers.

By way of comparison, Diefenthaler said a similarly configured Dell system would cost some $4,000 more than a loaded 850 system.

The Gateway 820 LTO Autoloader is geared for SMBs, institutions and enterprises who desire a low-cost tape back-up product that works at high capacity. The Autoloader features an LTO-1 Ultrium tape drive with capacity for 100GB of uncompressed data and performance of 57.6 GB/Hr uncompressed.

It also features an eight-cartridge carousel holding LTO tape with a maximum data capacity of 800GB uncompressed. A SCSI interface allows customers to connect to Gateways 955, 975 or 995 servers.

Starting at $2,999, the Gateway 850 will soon support fail-over clustering with Microsoft's Cluster Server. The Gateway 820 Autoloader is priced at $5,799.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

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