EMC Embraces SMBs at EMC World

by Drew Robb

We look at online backup and disk array products that the storage giant showcased for small businesses at its annual conference.

Every year, EMC, one of the world's leading manufacturers of software and hardware systems for information management and storage, hosts its EMC World conference in Las Vegas. This year, more than 9,000 people gathered for a series of keynote addresses, 500 sessions and product demonstrations in the storage, security and virtualization categories.

Specific to small businesses, the company promoted new backup software, disk drive systems and the glories of simplifying your backup by moving it all online. I braved the storage hoards at the conference to take a look at what the EMC has in mind for serving the small business market.

Listening to EMC talk about the SMB market feels a bit schizophrenic. On the one hand, you interview someone who discusses unlimited online backup for less than $5 a month. But the next speaker explains how EMC’s small business disk systems come with a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“Our DL3D 1500 disk system is great for SMB and costs $115,000,” said Dave Donatelli, the head of EMC’s storage division.

This apparent dichotomy is due to the culture and history of the company. Five years back, EMC was all about high-end storage systems. Since then, it has embarked upon a journey of acquisition to broaden its appeal beyond storage hardware. Over the past year it bought Mozy.com -- an online storage company – and those guys live and breathe small business.

Stretching Out

With new owners come new challenges, and EMC plans to stretch Mozy.com from the lower end of the market up into the enterprise space.

“Before joining EMC, our idea was to gain an enterprise customer or two every year,” said Vance Checketts, chief operating officer of Mozy. “EMC’s idea is to stretch us so that we gain one or two of those large customers every week.’

While Mozy's corporate customers include General Electric, the consumer, home office and small business markets remain its bread and butter. According to Checketts, the fastest growing segment at Mozy is small business.

The online backup provider just released Mozy for the Mac. Like its previous Windows-only version, it is an online backup service. You set a backup schedule, and your new files or changed files are uploaded each day and available for rapid restore.

Mozy offers three levels of service:

MozyHome – designed consumer computers, but it would also be the right choice for a small business with a handful of employees. It includes up to 2 GB of online backup for free, otherwise, it is $4.95 a month for an unlimited amount per laptop or desktop.

MozyPro – Accommodates up to 250 or so people. It costs $3.95 per month per person plus 50 cents per gigabyte. You can also license it for a central file server at $6.95 per month and $1.75 per GB. Depending on your company's circumstance, it could be better to buy Mozy Pro per-desktop and in other cases, it would be cheaper to license server-based backup.

MozyEnterprise – You can choose this option if/when your SMB is large enough to have its own dedicated IT staff to look after desktop support. It costs $5.25/mo. per desktop/laptop plus $0.70/mo. per gigabyte and $9.25/mo. per supported Windows server plus $2.35/mo. per gigabyte.

As for EMC buying Mozy, Checketts is more than happy. He said it's provided stability, expansion, better data center capabilities and brand recognition.

“SMBs might have been reluctant to trust their data to an unknown startup,” he said, “but many small business owners know EMC, and that tells them Mozy will be around for the long haul and can be counted on to keep their data safe.”

EMC Hardware for SMB

EMC has also been rolling out hardware aimed at various segments of the SMB market.

Dave Donatelli announced recent upgrades to the Celerra NS20 disk system. It can be installed in less than 15 minutes, and it can also be used in multiple types of storage environments using different protocols. This is EMC’s fastest-selling disk storage product.

“We’ve made it so easy to use that even an adult can do it,” said Donatelli. “The nine-year-old kid was faster, but the adult made it before the 15 minutes were up.” The smallest unit has six 750 GB disks for 4.5 TB of data. It can scale up as high as 60 disks. The starting price is $32,000.

Lower down the scale, EMC also offers the EMC CLARiiON AX4 disk system. The company also touts its ease-of-use features and a starting price of $8,599. “The CLARiiON AX4 provides low-cost consolidation and advanced data protection for small businesses,” said Barry Ader, senior director of storage platforms marketing at EMC. “It can scale up as high as 60 TB.”

Moving up to the stratosphere, EMC offers some brand new “SMB” disk-based storage systems that are more suited to the mid-market. The EMC DL3D 1500 provides up to 36 TB for $115,000, and its big cousin, the DL3D 3000 scales all the way up to 148 TB.

At a more reasonable price range, EMC Networker Fast Start is new backup software aimed squarely at SMB with a starting price of $18,000. Essentially, EMC has taken its traditional Networker backup software and made it easier to use and install.

“We have cut the install time on Networker by 80 percent,” said Donatelli. “It includes features such as de-duplication, Continuous Data Protection (CDP) and backup analytics. 

A Little Tucci

Joe Tucci, EMC’s CEO laid out the grander vision of EMC over the longer term. While it has strayed far from its roots in high-end storage, it fully intends to complete the journey by being a storage provider for all seasons – consumer, small business and large enterprise. And this goes well beyond its Mozy acquisition. The company has made an offer for storage company, Iomega. This would give EMC a major player and brand to expand its consumer and SMB presence with products such as external hard drives in the sub-$100 category.

EMC has developed Lifeline backup and data protection software that runs on hardware by other vendors. Tucci said that if the Iomega deal goes through, EMC will pair the Lifeline software with Iomega products to create a range of consumer and SMB tools.

“Five years ago, our strategy was to expand from the high-end into the middle tier, and that has been very successful,” said Tucci. “Now we are looking at SMB, SOHO and consumer in the same way, so you can expect to see EMC heading down market.”

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

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This article was originally published on Thursday May 29th 2008
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