SAN FRANCISCO—Dell, which has already introduced three new storage products in 2007, is releasing yet another storage product line for small and midsize businesses.
The new SAN (storage area network) array, the PowerVault MD3000i, is probably a good example of what the SMB storage market will offer for at least the next few years, analysts said.
This latest storage product comes as Dell continues to add market share in the server and storage sectors since founder Michael Dell returned to the CEOs office in January 2006.
IDC revealed Sept. 7 in its quarterly storage report that Dell had gained 23 percent in market share during the second quarter, which ended July 31. This means Dell now has the highest market share of all external storage drive makers.
The MD3000i is an all-iSCSI storage unit that features a wizard-based setup and configuration interface designed for non-IT business people, Dell told a group of customers, journalists and analysts here at the Four Seasons hotel.
Dell said he believes the IT industry has under-served the storage needs of SMB customers.
"Growing businesses are quickly reaching a breaking point in their ability to store and manage all this data being created," Dell said. "Historically, the industry has presented SMBs with two options for storage: Either buy a rudimentary storage solution like a DVD or tape that lacks capacity and basic software, or buy a de-featured product originally designed for large businesses. So it either doesnt do enough, or it costs too much. We will change that."
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Dell said his companys research shows that under 20 percent of small businesses and less than one-third of medium-sized businesses use advanced storage systems such as SANs.
Forty-one percent of small businesses say expanding storage capacity is a top priority for the next 12 months, but high-end Fibre Channel SANs are seen as too costly and too complex to administer and require special skills that most SMBs do not have, Dell said.
The company emphasized that the MD3000i is intended to be "affordable" for SMBs. A fully configured MD3000i storage server, with seven drives and set up for 16 ports and 18 terabytes of capacity, will retail for about $13,000, said Darren Thomas, Dells senior vice president for storage.
"A fully configured system with one drive will go for about $7,000," Thomas said. "We dont want to name names or point fingers here, but our competitors will cost out at about $15,000 for a seven-drive system. When the expansion software is included, we price out even better—about 60 percent less."
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Henry Baltazar, a storage analyst at The 451 Group, told eWEEK that as more SMB customers move from DAS (direct access storage) to iSCSI, a lot more products like the MD3000i will become available.
"This [product] is catering to that lower end of the market," Baltazar said. "Well be seeing a lot more of these enterprise solutions trickle down as well. It will create even more competition. Its a preview of things to come."
Hewlett Packard, EMC, Sun Microsystems, Network Appliance and Quantum have been among the leaders in the SMB market, where margins are slimmer and high-volume sales rule.
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Thomas performed a demo of the MD3000i configuration software, provisioning two virtual servers off two physical servers with, literally, five point-and-clicks and in about 3 minutes.
The MD3000i shares the same hard drives as Dell PowerEdge servers, features snapshot and virtual disk copy capabilities to support real-time backups, runs over existing Ethernet networks, and supports SAS (serial-attached SCSI) or SATA (Serial ATA) Hard Disk Drives or Dual Active/Active RAID controllers.
It also features dual Gigabit Ethernet host ports/controller, redundant power and fans, and mirrored cache with 72 hours of battery backup. It supports up to 16 redundant servers and up to 18TB of data across 45 drives.
Dell, based in Round Rock, Texas, has made the MD3000i available now. For additional information, go here.
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