EMC targets SMBs

Posted on February 06, 2006

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By Kevin Komiega

—EMC today announced a line of hardware and software products aimed at meeting the storage requirements of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Dubbed Insignia, the new line primarily comprises existing EMC products that have been tweaked to fit lower price points required by SMBs.

The Insignia line is anchored by the Clariion AX100 disk array with Fibre Channel or iSCSI connectivity options. The software components of Insignia include SMB versions of EMC's Storage Administrator for management of Microsoft Exchange Server data, Retrospect for backup and recovery, RepliStor for data replication, VisualSRM storage resource management (SRM) software, and eRoom collaboration software.

EMC uses three criteria to determine whether a product meets the needs of SMBs. The product must be customer-installable and manageable, easily supported by value-added resellers (VARs), and priced affordably for SMB budgets.

Larry Zulch, EMC vice president and general manager, and former CEO and co-founder of Dantz Development, has been tasked with managing the Insignia business and says his team spent more than a year selecting products for inclusion in the Insignia portfolio. He says EMC made some changes to existing technologies to create "SMB Editions" of the various products.

"Sometimes developing the SMB Edition meant removing a feature or capability that is not necessary for small and medium-sized customers, and other times we tweaked or added functionality to existing products," says Zulch.

EMC's road map includes plans to improve existing products and add new ones to the Insignia line, although Zulch is tight-lipped about the details. "We will be acquiring and developing additional technologies for the Insignia line," he says.

The definition of an SMB varies from vendor to vendor. Some companies classify SMBs by number of employees, amount of storage, or by annual revenues. EMC uses the revenue model, defining an SMB as having annual revenues ranging from $1 million to $25 million.

But despite the growth of the SMB market, EMC has not made a concerted push into the market until today—unlike competitors such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Ray Boggs, International Data Corp.'s vice president of SMB research, says EMC was waiting for the SMB storage market to mature before taking the plunge.

"EMC would not get the same kind of traction in the SMB space if they had introduced two years ago. I don't think the market was prepared, interested, or as needy as it is now," explains Boggs.

Boggs believes the maturation of the market is due to the explosion of storage growth and the need for SMBs to manage bloated e-mail servers, etc.

"EMC has been finding success over time moving into adjacent market segments. The logical adjacent market is SMBs, which is getting more sophisticated in terms of storage requirements, but has not increased its IT resources," says EMC's Zulch.

Pricing for the Clariion AX100/i starts at $5,500; Storage Administrator for Exchange SMB Edition, $1,995; RepliStor SMB Edition, $995 per node; VisualSRM SMB Edition, $995; and eRoom SMB Edition, $995 for 10 users. Retrospect is priced from $399.

EMC also launched a program called Velocity for SMB, which is designed to train, support, and recruit SMB channel partners. EMC claims to have signed up more than 75 new channel partners that will sell and support the Insignia line.

The Insignia launch comes on the heels of EMC's introduction of a slew of hardware and software products last week. EMC premiered an entry-level configuration of the Symmetrix disk array while boosting the capacity of its high-end Symmetrix DMX-3. EMC also made several software announcements last week, including the debut of its Multi-Path File System for iSCSI (MPFSi) software for moving large files over IP networks, enhancements to the EMC Rainfinity Global File Virtualization platform, and enhancements to the Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) system for data retention.

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