Five secret data storage and data management vendors

Companies like EMC and NetApp hog the storage headlines. Here’s a list of five vendors you hardly ever hear about, but which may add value to your business.

Vendors like EMC, NetApp, HDS, HP, Dell and IBM hog the headlines whenever data storage or data management are discussed. We've done some digging to shed light on some lesser-known names.


There’s a fair chance you use Xyratex technology without knowing it, and that’s because the company is a kind of meta original equipment manufacturer that happily churns out no-brand product for other companies to sell under their own names.

Dell is one company said to use Xyratex kit, with NetApp, IBM and EMC’s Data Domain unit also reported to buy its wares.

Xyratex is quiet about just who shops from it, but does boast on its site that some of its products include “personality modules” that allow its customers to apply a branded experience to its products. It also says OEMs “can easily tailor ... to meet end product requirements, including colored plastics, custom mouldings, labelling, logo printing and product packaging.”

It seems rather a lot of storage companies chose to do so, as Xyratex also claims that it “ships over 14% of the world's external storage capacity.” Intriguingly, the company also says “75% of all 3.5" drives are processed using Xyratex test systems.” Those test systems check drive integrity ahead of their placement in arrays.

Active Storage and Promise Technology

When Apple killed its XServe RAID products, some of the engineers who lost their jobs felt there was still a niche in the market for a RAID array tuned to the needs of big Mac users and digital media creators.

Today, their aspirations live on at Active Storage, manufacturer of an array called ActiveRAID that is pitched squarely at Apple users and even looks somewhat reminiscent of the Xserve RAID.

The company sells in the USA, Latin America and Europe, and while it is yet to reach our shores the company is seeking resellers.

While Active Storage positions itself as an Apple specialist, the official storage for those of you with lots of Macs, XServe boxen or a Final Cut edit suite is Promise Technology whose VTrak E-Class RAID Subsystem is resold on Apple’s web site.

Fujitsu and NEC

Okay ... this is actually two vendors, but we’re putting them under one subhead because they both have one thing in common: despite selling plenty of storage kit overseas, neither bothers with the local market.

NEC’s offering is its well-regaded HYDRAstor range that is generally considered a mainstream player in the disk backup market ... if you live in North America.

Fujitsu does sell its Eternus systems in Australia, but hardly ever discusses them in public. We’ve never heard of a local customer, either! The Eternus is often said to possess unusually good spin-down features and was often mentioned in the same breath as now-defunct Copan, pioneer of MAID - massive arrays of idle disks.

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