Dell, EMC launch SAN for SMBs

Fertile markets are few and far between in today's IT landscape. But with a new partnership, EMC Corp. and Dell Inc. are targeting two of the greenest pastures in the sector with a storage area network (SAN) product.

These lucrative areas include the most bountiful portion of the storage market -- networked storage, comprised of both SAN and network-attached storage (NAS) -- and the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) market. The biggest opportunity for networked storage is with SMBs, said Alan Freedman, research manager, infrastructure hardware, at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

"Large business has been quicker to adopt the technology, which is usually the case, but the small- and medium-sized business was waiting for more price-sensitive products to come out," he said. "As well, they are waiting for products that don't need a full IT department to support them, because in most small businesses you're not going to have exhaustive resources to monitor your networks."

While EMC has done well in the big business customer segment, it wouldn't be able to target the SMB market effectively without Dell's contacts. Conversely, the partnership benefits Dell because EMC gives the PC-maker credibility in the storage market, Freedman said.

Together the companies have launched the AX100, available in a direct-attached storage (DAS), SAN-ready configuration for just under US$5,000 or in a complete SAN configuration for just under $10,000. Each has up to 12 serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) drives and provides storage capacities varying from 480GB to 3TB. It has bundled management software for provisioning, automated failover and snapshot capabilities. A Brocade Silkworm 8 port 3250 switch is also shipped with it. Right now the offering is available for Fibre Channel but iSCSI compatibility is upcoming, EMC said.

Additionally, the SAN includes wizards so it can be configured in four steps, EMC said. It also comprises redundant features such as a dual controllers and a mirrored cache. It runs on Novell Inc.'s Netware, Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and Linux. Unix compatibility will follow, the company added.

"For the last six or seven years, we have been following the belief that storage should be networked," said Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC.

SANs do not allow for storage silos to exist, therefore information can be shared across all servers. This results in better utilizations of storage because the data in storage silos doesn't usually take up the amount of available storage, leading to unused capacity, he added.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) and IBM Corp. hold the number one and two spots in the Canadian storage market respectively, Freedman said. HP has the MSA SAN Switch series, a legacy line from Compaq, which was the first entry-level SAN offering on the market, he added, making it the one to compare against and compete with.

"IBM is really starting to focus on migrating their capabilities downward with their fast (eServer BladeCenter) T System they're getting into more low-end installations," he added.

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