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One Company Quits SMB Storage Market, Others Try A Different Tack

NetApp is discontinuing StoreVault, its network storage appliance for small and midsize businesses, in order to focus on midsize and large enterprises. Meanwhile, Box.net is taking a different route by continuing to evolve its online-storage focus into content management with social-software features.
NetApp is discontinuing StoreVault, its network storage appliance for small and midsize businesses, in order to focus on midsize and large enterprises. Meanwhile, Box.net is taking a different route by continuing to evolve its online-storage focus into content management with social-software features.Do you use StoreVault for your storage needs? If so, NetApp will continue supporting it for three more years, but after that, you're out of luck, and so are the companies that were considering buying StoreVault -- no more are being manufactured. The Silicon Valley-based company is dropping the low-end storage array and will instead focus on midsize and large companies. In a statement, NetApp said the reorganization will allow it to better service its midsize- and large-enterprise markets. One can only assume economics played a big role in the decision, as well.

The dissed small-business customers are crying foul on NetApp's messageboard, stating their displeasure with the company's decision to discontinue support in three years. And Overland Storage is taking advantage of the situation by aggressively courting StoreVault users.

"Given the tough economic climate we are now facing, it is, quite frankly, stunning that NetApp would want to effectively disenfranchise its customer base by discontinuing this range," stated David Spate, sales director, Northern EMEA, of Overland Storage. Spate is urging NetApp customers to check out Overland's SNAPServer, assures them that their "IT investment will be protected with Overland," and is even offering programs for StoreVault customers (details here).

Then there's Box.net's approach to online storage, which, over the past year, has seen the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company remake itself into a content management provider for small and midsize companies. And just today it added social-software features and a people-oriented interface, with the goal being to create a centralized workspace so that employees can share content and information. And Box.net declared it is no longer competing with shared storage services. "We think we've moved beyond that. The key isn't storage; it's what you do after that," Jen Grant, vice president of marketing, told bMighty editor-in-chief Fred Paul.

Interestingly, in an interview published today, NetApp founder Dave Hitz said hes skeptical of cloud-based storage. I think that one of the least interesting services to supply separately as a cloud is storage services, he said.

So which company has the better approach to the business of storage -- focus on larger enterprises, scoop up disgruntled smaller customers, or reach for the cloud? And will other tech manufacturers follow any of these paths?

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