Dell Cranks Out Storage Server for SMBs

by Clint Boulton

Leaving partner EMC on the bench, Dell unveils a server for simple storage management. Dell's late entrance reflects its strategy of waiting until the market has been saturated by competitors before it sells lower cost products to lure SMB customers its way.

Recognizing the importance of serving the growing legion of small- and medium-sized business customers, Dell on Monday unveiled a network attached storage server (define) to help small- and -medium-sized businesses manage increasing volumes of data.

Dell rivals IBM, HP, Hitachi Data Systems and Network Appliance all make NAS or SAN (define) servers and devices for SMBs, spurred by the demand from a new influx of small businesses and departments within larger enterprises. Analysts have forecast multi-million-dollar opportunities for systems vendors to cater to these buyers.

Last year, AMI-Research reported that less than one percent of U.S. small businesses have implemented SAN storage systems, and only 12 percent of mid-sized businesses implemented a SAN. Furthermore, the high-tech research firm forecast that only three percent of small businesses plan to install or upgrade a SAN this year, while 20 percent of mid-sized businesses will do the same. Smaller businesses typically do not have the internal IT staff available to make a SAN solution work. Although prices are dropping for SAN systems, the total cost of ownership of such systems puts it at the high-end of the average SMB IT budget.

Dell's late entrance reflects its strategy of waiting until the market has been saturated by competitors before it sells lower cost products to tempt customers who may be waiting for the best price to come along. While the Round Rock, Texas, company often rolls out storage products with partner EMC, a spokesperson for the vendor said the 745N is purely a Dell product, joining the preexisting NAS models 725N, 770N and 775N.

The PowerVault 745N offers four terabytes of external SCSI-attached (define) storage along with features that make the machine easier to use for departments with one or two-person IT staffs, according to Dell. The box also offers management features to make sure customers can easily back up and consolidate data. Ideally, Dell would like its customers to be able to migrate their storage data onto one 745N machine.

A 1U rack product, the 745N features software options in which customers can take "snapshot" copies of their data, which allows them to revert back to previous versions of data to fend off file deletion or system failures. Dell also throws in status reporting tools for management through a single console.

Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager of Dell Storage, said another ease-of-use-selling point is that the 745N takes as little as 15 minutes to deploy, an inviting proposition for small companies or departments with few IT personnel.

As a byproduct of its deep partnership with Microsoft and Intel, the server runs Windows Storage Server 2003 and Intel Celeron or Pentium 4 processors with speeds up to 3.2 gigahertz and capacity from 160 gigabytes to 4 TB. It runs Windows, Linux, NetWare, UNIX and Macintosh operating systems.

The PowerVault 745N, available now at a base price of $1,799 and supports Dell PowerVault tape back-up devices, as well as data protection software from Veritas Software and Yosemite Technologies.

Adapted from internetnews.com.

This article was originally published on Tuesday Mar 23rd 2004
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