EMCs Dantz Buy Reveals SMB Ambitions

By purchasing Dantz, which developed the Retrospect family of backup and restore technology for small to midsized businesses, EMC aims to make further inroads into the lucrative market.

EMC Corp. on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Dantz Development Corp., developers of the Retrospect family of backup and restore technology for the SMB (small to midsized business) market.

Dantz Retrospect provides backup and restore data protection for file servers, desktops, notebooks and business-critical applications. Customers include British Telecom, DaimlerChrysler, Motorola, Nortel, Pixar and Walt Disney.

The acquisition, which includes all of the Walnut Creek, Calif., companys assets, will strengthen EMCs position in the SMB space, an area in which the company is particularly interested in expanding, said Larry Zulch, former president of Dantz and now a vice president at EMC.

With the acquisition of Dantz, EMC is simply completing what it started with other SMB-related products such as the Legato RepliStor Windows-based file replication product and Co-Standby Server, a failover system for Windows Exchange and SQL servers.

On the hardware side, fairly recent SMB offerings include the Clariion AX100 SAN (storage area network) system and the NetWin 100 Windows-based NAS appliance.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about the AX100, an entry-level SAN device targeting SMBs.

Acquiring Dantz is a good way for EMC to increase its penetration into the SMB market, and its an excellent complement to the products acquired from Legato last year, said Peter Gerr, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.

Retrospect primarily supports Windows and Macintosh and is sold almost exclusively through the channel and two-tiered distribution, making it a classic SMB product. "If there was ever a product that was built for the true SMB business data-protection market, this is it," Gerr said.

But more important than simply having a product to play in the SMB space is gaining an understanding of how to penetrate the SMB market–something Dantz provides, said George Symons, chief technology officer of information management at EMC.

"We needed the DNA–the knowledge Dantz brings about how to manage the channel and marketing activities in the SMB space," he said.

Symons said the Retrospect product itself wont change. But the company does plan to build a common management console for both Legato Networker and Dantz Retrospect. The goal, he said, is to allow the products to work cooperatively so customers can move up from an SMB solution to an enterprise solution more easily.

While the acquisition wont affect the mix of software and platform support, Symons noted that it will help shore up EMCs market share in the Macintosh world. "It adds to our overall mix," he said.

As EMC barrels into the SMB market, other backup and restore vendors in the SMB space, such as Veritas, may begin to feel the pressure. These vendors may now feel compelled to examine how their current products perform and how they are priced, given current market conditions, Gerr said.

EMCs acquisition of Dantz is just the beginning of a struggle over the lucrative SMB market, Gerr said. "SMBs may only have 10 to 50 people, but there are a lot of them, and they create a lot of data," he said. "The battle for the midmarket has begun."

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