New Products

By eweek  |  Posted 2006-12-11 Print this article Print

Theres a wave of new storage products coming out that are aimed at SMBs. Simplicity is one of the hallmarks of these products, and storage over IP is another. Has anyone been deploying any new storage products for smaller enterprises?

Miller: Weve been deploying the NetApp iSCSI environment—the 3020 system—and its more for the midsize enterprise space. [We went with it because it meant] not having to implement a costly, complex Fibre Channel environment.

But, if you look at the storage resource management or ILM [information lifecycle management] capabilities, youre still using the applications that were meant for the big boys. So, even if you provide products that are scaled down from a hardware perspective, the software isnt always appropriate for an SMB business.

So, its not a totally effective scale-down effort on NetApps part?

Miller: Well, from a hardware perspective it is, but if you look at the tools for managing the environment, theyre still complex for what the requirements and the capacity are for an SMB.

Rosen: This is where there is still a breakdown: The SMBs still do not have the IT shops to support some of the things they are doing. When they hit a problem, they go to the vendor, which is not properly staffed to support the less technical users.

Id like to toss out the names of a few vendors that have downsized products lately. SAP has been trying to downsize its products for some time; Oracle has the Express Edition of its Oracle Database 10g; IBM announced the Express series of storage and server products; Sun has its OnDemand service; Microsoft, with its Dynamics line, is bringing ERP [enterprise resource planning] to SMBs. Anyone want to say anything about any of these companies products?

Miller: For me, I need to look at each vendor. I need to look at its enterprise offering, and I need to look at its designated SMB offering—almost like its in a matrix or a table. I need to see what differentiates the SMB offering—not only from a requirements standpoint of hardware and software but also in how the product is implemented through professional services, how its managed and supported in the enterprise—before I can say one offering is good or not good.

Im also wary of the downsized product in terms of what was left out.

Wilson: I spend a lot of time with Verizon, and they have brought several applications to the small business that before were available only to larger businesses with the economies of scale necessary to keep the prices realistic.

Another example that comes to mind is Dell, which can—because of its direct model—provide no-extra-charge asset management and inventory services to small businesses that need IT asset management and inventory but do not want to bring those functions in-house.

What about regulation and compliance demands? The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is aimed at large businesses, of course, but there are a lot of other regulations that have come down, and Im wondering how youre coping with that.

Dugger: Most of the small businesses I deal with are private and privately funded, so thats the least of their concerns. Generally, theyre concerned with getting off the ground and keeping their costs down. The rest of the stuff is side issues, and theyll deal with it later.

Rabuck: I agree—regulations tend to have less of an effect on small businesses, at least at this point in time.

Miller: I can speak to that. Were covered heavily under compliance. As a public company, were covered under Sarbanes-Oxley. As a medical devices company, were covered by the Food and Drug Administration. Were also ISO-certified, and weve recently gone through some litigation exercises where weve had to go through e-mail and document discovery.

I think the way you approach compliance is important: If you look at compliance as a strategic advantage versus just meeting the rules and regulations, you can actually gain some efficiencies.

Next Page: Different approaches.


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