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SMB Storage Face-Off

Hewlett-Packard is the latest to offer a $5,000 NAS-iSCSI appliance, with EMC and Network Appliance already in the fray.

Hewlett-Packard this week is joining the A-list of tier-one storage vendors delivering $5,000 NAS-iSCSI appliances that are redrawing the battle lines in the small-business storage market.

With the release this week of its new StorageWorks All-in-One Storage System family of combination NAS-iSCSI SAN appliances, previously code-named Atlanta, HP joins top storage vendors, such as EMC and Network Appliance, that are reshaping the SMB storage landscape.

Network Appliance made its small-business debut a few months ago with its StoreVault S500 NAS-iSCSI appliance. EMC early this year made its first-ever foray into the small-business storage market with its EMC Insignia SMB line and AX150 storage array.

VARs say the new offerings are changing the way they sell to SMB customers and even opening doors to enterprise accounts. The products also are heating up the competition between between the tier-one and tier-two and tier-three players, VARs said. What's more, they also are helping VARs close more storage sales to small businesses hungry for new ways to manage their fast-growing data storage requirements.

Stefan Pryor, CEO of CommandGlobal, a solution provider in Dallas, cited the example of a local 25-person government contractor that needed to create a lab environment for testing data but found storage to be the bottleneck until it purchased a NetApp StoreVault.

"When they added virtualization to their environment, they all of a sudden had the ability to do lab testing," Pryor said. "But all of a sudden, they realized they didn't have the capacity to create 10 replications of a database. Their capacity needs had quadrupled in a few months to 4 Tbytes."

Kevin Urso, president of Connected Technology, a solution provider in Great River, N.Y., said a local school district with a total capacity of 1 Tbyte spread out across 13 servers was planning to replace those servers, but the district instead bought a NetApp StoreVault appliance. As a result, it consolidated administration, teacher and student data into a single device, eliminated the requirement for new servers and canceled the antivirus and backup software licenses for those servers.

Mario Brum, director of data management at GreenPages, Kittery, Maine, has started talking to customers about HP's All-in-One appliances and is finding customers more interested than ever in moving to networked storage.

"We want customers to see the cost benefits of centralized storage," Brum said. "There's still a large number of our clients that stick with direct-attach storage because of the culture of their organization and because they think Fibre Channel is too expensive and iSCSI is too new."

Pryor said that before his company signed on with NetApp, it had trouble meeting small business' price points. "Since signing with NetApp, we've pretty much dropped our other offerings to go with StoreVault," he said.

However, said Alan Morse, account executive and storage specialist at Premier Systems, Blue Bell, Pa., the new appliances are not limited to small businesses. "When I saw the new HP All-in-One, I took it to an enterprise food-service customer with stadium contracts," Morse said. "They have remote servers that need to be backed up and managed remotely. My contact is now talking to his department heads. It's a good deal for such companies."

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