QLogic Wraps Up SAN Express for SMBs

The storage company aims to woo SMBs away from direct-attached storage solutions by providing an affordable SAN starter kit through resellers.

In an effort to encourage more small businesses to make the jump from direct-attached storage to storage area networks, QLogic has introduced a series of products that make it fast, easy and relatively inexpensive to make the switch.

The Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based companys offering, called SAN Express, is a group of products consisting of the SANBox Express 1000 series Fibre Channel switches, SANSurfer Express software that automatically discovers and installs a complete SAN (storage area network) quickly, and SANBlade Express 200 series Fibre Channel HBA (host bus adapters), which connect servers to small workgroup SANs.

SMBs (small and midsize businesses) can also purchase the SAN Express Starter Kit, a packaged set that includes one switch, two HBAs, and necessary software and accessories for $3,295.

The SAN Express product line is QLogic Corp.s latest attempt to increase market share in the SMB space, and follows the introduction of an entry-level SAN-in-a-box solution developed in concert with Hewlett-Packard Co. last October.

That solution, also aimed at the SMB market, was a bit larger and more expensive and offered through partner HP as the StorageWorks MSA1000 Small Business SAN Kit.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about QLogics joint SAN offering with HP.

In contrast, SAN Express, solely QLogics offering, is smaller and less expensive, and is offered through QLogics channel partners.

"They felt like they had to do this because even the SAN-in-a-box solution is too expensive compared to DAS," said Brian Garrett, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group of Milford, Mass.

"With this, everything is smaller. They have a smaller version of the SAN box switch thats about as long as a pencil, each port costs about $200, and they have a Fibre Channel adapter for under $500. And when they package it all together, they are making it even cheaper," Garrett said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifA tool from EMC analyzes SAN environments in real time. Click here to read more.

By developing the technology and training channel partners, QLogic isnt cutting corners in creating SAN Express. The fact that QLogic is investing so much in a second SMB-focused SAN solution means that company executives believe the potential of the SMB market is huge, Garrett said.

In fact, the strategy is more business-oriented than technology-focused, Garrett said.

"Instead of selling it through a big OEM like HP or Dell, QLogic is now actively signing up VARs and distributors to try to get into the smaller customers," he said. Resellers, in turn, can package SAN Express components with storage hardware and target it toward customers in specific vertical markets.

Garrett cited the example of a solution, based on SAN Express, designed for digital video editing, with one drive, an HBA and a 4-port switch, all for less than $10,000.

"The channel is a great way to reach out and get these solutions in front of customers and make sure you have the right price and capacity points," he said.

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