Linksys brings storage, stackables to SMBs

Linksys introduced its first network-attached storage and stackable switches for SMBs

Cisco Systems' Linksys division thinks small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should have some of the same features enterprises get, such as backup power and virtualization, when they attach storage to their networks.

On Monday, the company rolled out its first NAS (network-attached storage) products for businesses, filling a need it found in smaller organizations when it started investigating the technology about two years ago, said Ivor Diedricks, a senior product marketing manager. The rollout includes two lines of NAS chassis, ranging in price from US$999.99 to US$2,499.99.

NAS is common in enterprises and a fledgling category in consumer electronics, but neither of those types of gear suits enterprises with between five and 100 users, Diedricks said. The company's goal was to key capabilities of the large-enterprise systems into products that are affordable to SMBs.

Linksys' well-known parent also serves some enterprises in that five-to-100-user range, Diedricks said. But those companies generally have an in-house IT staff and want a direct support relationship with Cisco, whereas Linksys customers generally turn to resellers for management and support.

The NAS products are available with an optional redundant power supply unit to keep the NAS units running in case of a power outage, as well as standard on-disk encryption, a system within the chassis for encrypting data. With on-disk encryption, disks can be taken out and moved and the data will stay secure, Diedricks said.

Linksys introduced four Network Storage System (NSS) chassis, each with four drive bays. The NSS6000 includes some advanced features that are not in the NSS4000, notably virtualization capability, Diedricks said. This feature lets a business organize more than one NAS chassis into a single virtual volume. An NSS4000 can be part of one of these virtual volumes, but the NSS6000 is required to run virtualization. Also, the NSS6000 can handle 75 simultaneous users, while the NSS4000 is limited to 15.

Both the NSS4000 and NSS6000 also are available in versions that already include a set of 250G-byte RAID (redundant arrays of independent disks) drives, for a total capacity of 1T byte.

Also Monday, Linksys introduced its first stackable switches for SMBs. The devices are designed to help enterprises expand their networks as they grow. As many as eight can be stacked together and managed as one switch, and an optional redundant power supply can keep a stack of as many as six running in case of an outage.

The switches range from a 24-port 10/100M bps (bit-per-second) device with four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two interfaces for fiber Gigabit links to an all-Gigabit Ethernet switch with four fiber interfaces and Power over Ethernet to run VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phones and other devices. They all have quality-of-service features to support VOIP. Estimated street prices range from US$409.99 to US$999.99.

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