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NEC M-Series – Product Brief

Last updated January 16th, 2019 for updated models M120, M320, M320F. Concise and unbiased 4-page overview of the features and functionality of NEC M-Series. Product Brief includes EvaluScale Reviewing Methodology. Download the free Product Brief now!


The NEC M-Series is a family of block storage systems that scale from entry level to the high-end.  All are dual controller systems with the smallest model, the M120, having the option of a cost-reduced single controller version.  The M-Series systems have both all flash and hybrid models and are scale-up systems with dual active controllers.  A separate NAS gateway is offered that utilizes the M-Series block storage as the backend system.

Standard software functions are included with the M-Series to provide management, VMware integration, and some performance functions.  Advanced functions are enabled with the extra cost Optional Software.

Packaged in a 2U enclosure for the M120 and M320/M320F or a 4U enclosure for the M510 and M710/M710F, the dual controllers also have the option of 25 2.5” devices or 12 3.5” devices.  Additional devices added with Disk Array Enclosures contain either 12 3.5” devices in a 2U enclosure or 24 2.5” devices in a 2U enclosure.


The NEC M-Series systems are targeted for usage in enterprise environments that need a SAN block storage solution.  With the addition of the NAS gateway, either Nh4b or Nh8b, the M-Series can be used as a NAS backend while still supporting external block access.  The M-Series systems have a low entry price and include a number of advanced features and capabilities.

  • Characteristics
    • Performance – NEC has completed Storage Performance Council benchmark testing for multiple models. The largest model, the M710 results showed 255,011 IOPs for a 135TB system at 100% load for their defined SPC-1 test.
    • Availability – With two storage controllers configured, the M-Series has the high availability characteristic including the failover and failback required of a system.
    • Replication for BC/DR – Both asynchronous and synchronous block remote replication is available.
    • Notable – Storage Manager is the GUI administrative tool that can manage multiple systems over multiple sites.
  • Applications
    • The M-Series is targeted at applications that use block I/O. File access requires a separate NAS gateway.
    • The features of snapshot and remote replication give customers required data protection functionality. The performance and features allow applications to be deployed in a high availability environment.
  • System environments
    • NEC M-Series are block storage systems accessed using Fibre Channel, SAS, and iSCSI with standard drivers on host systems.
  • Deployment and Administration
    • The M-Series is targeted for installation by support engineers but enough information is available to be installed and managed by an IT generalist.
    • The management is through a CLI, Storage Manager, or Storage Manager Express.
    • NEC has released vSphere plug-ins in addition to other VMware support. VAAI, VVOLs and VASA are also supported.

Evaluator Group EvaluScale: NEC M-Series – SAN Storage

Evaluator Group product review methodology “EvaluScale” assesses each product within a specific technology area.  The definitions of the criteria and explanations of how products are reviewed can be found in the  Evaluator Series Evaluation Guide. Download the product brief now to view the Evaluscale for this product.

Evaluator Group Opinion: Differentiating elements for NEC M-Series

NEC M-Series is a family of block storage systems with a separate NAS gateway that can be added to provide the file serving function as a “bolt-on” controller.  Advanced features are also available with the exception of tiering of LUNs to clouds/object storage.  Direct backup from the M-Series to NEC HydraStor is included.

The M-Series systems are not scale-out systems, which means for increasing performance in parallel with capacity, a new controller pair (another M-Series model or multiple systems) must be installed with data-in-place as an upgrade.  Other competitive systems have implemented scale-out functionality for a more measured growth.  Evaluator Group believes the M-Series to be a low-risk storage solution with clear performance information available for customers.  Advanced capabilities including data reduction and active-active stretched cluster will improve the offering when available.  Additionally, the disclosure of when NVMe protocol will be available is important for competitive advantage.  The lack of scale-out is one limitation that must be managed by the customer when choosing the correct model and planning for replacements on pace with coupled capacity and performance demands.

NEC M-Series Product Brief Includes:

EvaluScale Product Review Methodology
Evaluator Group Commentary

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