Consumer demand for data storage is expected to drive Network Attached Storage (NAS) revenues to more than USD $1.25 billion in revenues by 2011.

That’s the conclusion of ABI Research, which says the phenomenal growth of digital photography, audio, and video have focused consumers’ minds on the need for secure storage.

Jason Blackwell, ABI Research senior analyst, says the need to store precious pictures, music, and movies has raised the profile of backup and media server solutions.

He said that although most consumers still rely on single-computer backup scenarios, a small but growing number are opting for NAS.

But the market needs to be promoted more to ensure an even greater uptake.

"In order to move the consumer NAS market forward, vendors, including leaders such as Buffalo Technology and Linksys by Cisco, need to educate and inform consumers about NAS’s advantages," he said.

Consumer NAS equipment falls into three groups:

  • Integrated NAS drives, which include the necessary networking software
  • Network storage enclosures, for those who wish to add the hard disk themselves
  • Storage routers and bridges, which allow attachment of standard USB or IEEE 1394 hard drives to a network

Blackwell says that integrated NAS drives comprise the lion’s share of the market, but storage routers and bridges offer vendors the greatest growth opportunity.

Challenges in this market have traditionally included consumers’ relative indifference to data security: backups have always been considered a bore.

So marketing and customer education will be key to success. Cost has been an issue too: while prices continue to fall, they still pose a barrier to adoption.

Blackwell says the rise of the home media server market, however, will provide some lift: DLNA and UPnP-enabled NAS devices can act as media
servers and are being branded as such.

"The fact that NAS devices are becoming more like media servers will certainly help them penetrate the digital home network," he said.

"Vendors are making a concerted effort to market NAS for these more exciting purposes rather than simply for backup."

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