Iomega / EMC to be VMS Platform

By John Honovich, Published Mar 18, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

One of the world's largest storage providers is turning their NAS devices into a platform for 3rd party VMS software. In this note, we examine what Iomega, a division of EMC, is doing, what market segments this best addresses, what limitations it has and how it compares to offerings from Synology and QNAP.

Overview of Offering

Iomega is loading VMS software on its broad range of NAS appliances supporting from 2 to 12 hard drives [link no longer available]. Noteworthy elements of the offering include:

  • VMSes Supported: Total of 3 - Mindtree [link no longer available], Soleratec and Axis AVHS; Mindtree is the only traditional VMS, Soleratec is a specialist for long term storage and Axis AVHS is VSaaS.
  • Iomega is open to new 3rd party apps. A developer needs to sign their NDA to get access to the SDK. Developers can inquire about the SDK by emailing emclifeline@emc.com.
  • Technical/resource restrictions: Limited by the power of their platform hardware, which Iomega says varies from  1.6GHz dual core Marvell CPU with 256MB memory up to an Intel Core2Duo with 4GB memory. Iomega requires the application be compiled and built with their toolchain, which integrates the app with their management. Iomega is 64 bit only and runs on a Debian Linux kernel on all platforms.

Limited VMS Support

Iomega's biggest problem is VMS support - both current and potential. Today, Iomega supports no mainstream VMSes. This, of course, can change over time. However, Iomega's restriction to Linux is a major practical issue for VMS support. A very small percentage of VMS systems can run on Linux. For example, most of the best known VMSes, like Genetec, Milestone and OnSSI are Windows only applications. The most well known VMS that runs on Linux is likely Exacq. Iomega needs more VMSes to run on their platform yet are constrained on what can possibly be added.

Potential Market Impact

SMBs, including small retailers, are the segments we see this offering have the most potential impact. Today, the available choices for low cost IP camera recorders (NVR, VMS, etc.) is very weak. Very few options cost less than $1,000, especially adding in the cost of VMS licenses, a PC, setup time, etc. By contrast, dozens of budget DVRs are available at low price points (between $300 - $700). This challenge was a central point in our analog vs MP debate for a 4 camera convenience store [link no longer available].

Iomega offers attractive pricing and hardware features for this market segment. The pricing is low - ranging from $200 for a 2TB NAS to less than a $1,000 for large, 8TB units. The reliability and acceptance of the iomega platform is high from general IT use. Plus, unlike DVRs, it provides storage redundancy as a 'free' feature. As such, it has the fundamentals to be a solid, low cost option for budget minded small businesses.

Compared to Synology and QNAP

Synology and QNAP are the two best known bundlers of NAS appliances and VMS software, offering a broad range of appliances. Each company uses their own VMS software, supporting no third party applications. The most common criticism of these offerings is the limited functionality and reputation of the VMS software provided.

Iomega's VMS offering do not appear to be notably better or better known than Synology or QNAP's. Its main advantage likely comes from the Iomega brand. To be more competitive, Iomega will need more 3rd party VMS options from more respected providers.

Future

Today, Iomega's platform approach to VMS systems is an interesting concept with limited practical appeal. It will be important to see if the ecosystem grows and expands to support more mainstream offerings.

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