Delivering to the Midmarket

Tech Analysis: Storage vendors are beefing up features and ease of use.

Setting their sights on small and midsize businesses, many storage vendors are tailoring their solutions for simplicity and ease of use.

Companies traditionally have had to acquire their storage infrastructure piecemeal, purchasing NAS (network-attached storage), SAN (storage area network), iSCSI and data protection products separately.

Now, vendors including Compellent, EMC and Hewlett-Packard are simplifying buying decisions for IT managers by packaging these elements together or offering them as add-ons as part of a unified product line. In addition to reducing costs, buying into a single vendors full-service SMB storage solution can help streamline deployment, administration and support.

Vendors also are enticing smaller IT shops looking to expand their storage through intuitive, easy-to-use software management and backup tools.

Smaller organizations moving from DAS (direct-attached storage) to networked storage can now often do so without any specialized storage expertise.

Targeting SMB environments with 20 to 250 employees, two to three servers and less than 10TB of data, EMCs Insignia Solution for Data Protection includes a Clariion AX150 array with Retrospect for Windows backup software.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Dell and EMC targeting SMBs with new Clariion models.

The AX150 provides as much as 6TB of storage on SATA (Serial ATA) II hard disks with iSCSI and Fibre Channel support and an optional redundant controller.

EMCs easy-to-use Retrospect for Windows software backs up server, workstation and notebook data from Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, NetWare and VMware systems. For added security, data can be protected with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) 128- and 256-bit encryption.

For even more up-to-the-minute protection, IT managers can complement the Insignia Solution for Data Protection with EMCs Replistor SMB Edition, which offers real-time replication.

And EMCs VisualSRM SMB Edition adds another piece to the storage puzzle by illuminating storage resource utilization. VisualSRM allows administrators to automate policies for storage allocation and to prepare for future growth.

HPs StorageWorks All-in-One Storage Systems take things a step further by bundling everything SMB users will need into a single package.

The StorageWorks All-in-One Storage Systems combine iSCSI SAN and NAS functionality with data protection and offer simplified management over an integrated GUI. A 1U (1.75-inch), 1TB (four 250GB SATA drives) system is priced starting at $5,499.

To expedite setup for new users, HPs All-in-One Storage Manager software recommends RAID configurations optimized for either performance or reliability, based on best-practice settings.

While some larger storage vendors are reluctant to outfit their SMB offerings with advanced features for fear of cannibalizing their midrange product sales, Compellent is touting the enterprise scalability of its easy-to-use Storage Center 3.5.

Indeed, Compellent was something of a trailblazer in this area, being the first to provide Fibre Channel and iSCSI capability in the same box.

The new Storage Center 3.5 includes features such as thin provisioning, continuous snapshots, automated tiered storage and thin replication.

New tools for bandwidth management and bandwidth shaping allow users to test how big a pipe theyll need and manage throughput allocation on a volume-by-volume basis.

The entire system can be managed over a single, Web-based user interface from which administrators can view volumes, scheduled snapshots and storage resources.

Technical Analyst Victor Loh can be reached at

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