Hi Folks –
If you’ve been following this blog, then you already know that Thecus is now shipping 2-bay, 4-bay, and 5-bay NAS devices running Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 Essentials. This is a new edition of Windows Storage Server that we created to enable affordable, easy-to-use, cloud-connected storage for small businesses and small office/home office (SOHO) environments. We recently interviewed John Tsai, Vice President of Marketing at Thecus, about the company’s new offerings and the reasons behind them:
What’s your role at Thecus, where do you fit within the organization, and what types of products/customers do you focus on?
As V.P. of Marketing at Thecus, I’m responsible for marketing and product management across all product lines. I’m also responsible for our customer service operations, which helps me stay current on customer needs and market trends. Our offerings include a range of network-attached storage, direct-attached storage, and network video recorders for all market segments—from two-bay desktop devices designed for SMB and SOHO markets to 16-bay rack-mount devices designed for the enterprise.
Why did you add an offering based on Windows Storage Server Essentials to your product portfolio?
We’re always looking for ways to provide greater value to our customers, most of which don’t have a lot of technical expertise. In the past, with our Linux-based offerings, customers had to install a utility on their PCs to discover the device, know what an IP address was, understand router settings, and so on. With Windows Storage Server Essentials, the setup process is a lot more simple and intuitive. In many ways, it’s just like buying a new laptop: you can basically turn on the device, run an intuitive wizard that handles setup for you, and you’re done. When you combine this improved ease-of-use with an enterprise-class feature set, built-in cloud connectivity, and price-parity with similarly configured Linux-based devices, it becomes clear how Windows Storage Server Essentials enables us to deliver greater customer value.
What makes your new NAS appliances based on Windows Storage Server Essentials special or different?
First and foremost, as the first NAS vendor to offer devices based on Windows Storage Server Essentials, we’re able to offer unmatched levels of value and ease-of-use across all three new models. Beyond that, we include several hardware features that make our products even more useful—including dual LAN ports, an embedded SSD or solid-state hybrid drive, one or more USB 3.0 ports, and an HDMI port for use in media-server scenarios. Our 2-bay W2000 also includes a built-in SD/SDHC/MMC card reader, and our 5-bay W5000 has an interactive LCD status display. The W5000 even includes an embedded 500 GB solid-state hybrid drive that can be used for both booting and data storage, enabling customers to start using the device out-of-the-box—without buying and installing a traditional hard disk drive.
Which features in Windows Storage Server Essentials are you particularly excited about—and why?
I think the greatest feature of Windows Storage Server Essentials is its ease-of-use for entry level users. Thanks to its intuitive dashboard, users can add disks without ever opening Disk Management, apply data redundancy without knowing anything about RAID-1 or RAID-5, and so on. Of course, because it’s based on Windows Server storage technologies, you also get advanced features such as Data Deduplication—which, until a year or two ago, was only available on high-end devices costing much, much more. Windows Storage Server Essentials enables us to deliver these and many other enterprise-class storage features at the same price as Linux-based devices, which can’t offer the same functionality. Integration with optional cloud services such as Azure Backup and Office 365 is built-in and can be turned-on at any time, providing a path to even greater customer choice and value.
How have customers reacted to your new offerings? Any pleasant surprises or customer anecdotes?
Customer feedback so far has been quite positive. Many of our customers previously had a Linux-based NAS, and are finding our new devices based on Windows Storage Server Essentials a lot easier to use. For example, with a Linux-based NAS, it could take someone a day or two to get a device up and running properly, with time spent looking up how to do things or on the phone with our service center. With Windows Storage Server Essentials, they just need to connect a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, run the setup wizard, and they’re done—in a very short time. It used to be that, with Linux, about 50 percent of our support calls were setup-related issues. Now, with Windows Storage Server Essentials, most of the support calls are about how to use its advanced features to get even more out of the device—not about how to simply get it up and running.
What can we expect from Thecus in the future? Can you tell us anything about how Windows Storage Server Essentials fits into your strategy and product roadmap?
We’re already looking at adding new value-added software utilities, which, of course, are easy to develop because they’ll run on Windows. Beyond that, we’re listening closely to initial customer feedback. For example, we recently added the option to upgrade the amount of RAM in their systems to 4 gigabytes. This will allow users to get even more out of their Thecus NAS devices, all while maintaining optimal performance.
What are the applications for your new products based on Windows Storage Server Essentials?
Because they’re based on Windows Server, the possibilities are practically endless. If all you need is network-attached storage, you get that out-of-the-box. But you also get so much more—including all the networking and infrastructure services needed to setup a robust small business or SOHO network; centralized client backup and restore; full server backup; and remote access and identity management services.
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My thanks to John for sharing his perspective on Windows Storage Server Essentials—and for being such a strong Microsoft partner. If you’re interested in learning more about Thecus’s new offerings, you’ll find a great starting point here. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out this great review of Thecus’s new W2000 2-bay NAS running Windows Storage Server Essentials.
Well, that’s it for now….
Scott M. Johnson
Senior Program Manager
Windows Storage Server