Storage vendor Western Digital (WD) has stepped outside its traditional comfort zone after launching a new line of high-end prosumer-targeted routing equipment, dubbed My Net.
WD northern Europe sales director Tim Anderson conceded that the market was particularly crowded, but said WD believed that end-users were being held back by cheaper routing equipment that failed to take into account the explosion in data traffic across the network, particularly video.
The new line-up includes an 8-Port Gigabit home entertainment switch and four dual-band routers, with the top N900 SKU including 1TB of integrated storage, which can be accessed remotely through apps on 3G-enabled Android and iOS devices.
It hopes to add further enhancements, including gateways, 802.11ac capability and a 2TB version of the N900 later in the year.
Whilst there are some use cases for business usage, the video-centricity of the new lines will likely exclude all but a few niche verticals. Nevertheless, Anderson added that if there were SMB VARs or SOHO specialists that "wanted to get behind the product" they would not be shut out.
For similar reasons, added Anderson, Hammer and Computers Unlimited, which focus more on WD's enterprise storage business, will not be getting access to the routing lines for the time being, with the emphasis being on leveraging its existing channels to retail markets through Avnet, Azlan, Ingram Micro and Micro-P.
Anderson added: "We're not trying to go head-to-head with those playing in b2b channels, such as Netgear or Cisco. [Nor] are we trying to compete on price or volume."
451 Group networking research director Eric Hanselman told our sister publication ComputerWeekly.com: "Combining competitive pressures and a consumer shift to remote storage creates a need for WD to retain a presence in consumer IT that logically pushes it to networking products.
"This is a good move for WD, as it allows it to cover a broader range of consumer IT needs with a brand that is already well established," he added.
Context vice president of enterprise research, Alex Mesguich, added: "It has been brewing for a while that WD was too exposed to one selected highly commoditised industry ... the Thai flooding gave a push to WD to diversify, and the networking industry is one that makes sense.
"I have no doubt WD may be able to gain quickly some market share in the home through high attachment rate of their drives with home networking devices," he said.