EMC Links Cloud Storage, Hard Drives

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Aiming to simplify the task of managing Web-based and local storage for small businesses, EMC (NYSE: EMC) has made its Retrospect Express software the connecting link between the vendor’s Mozy online service and its Iomega backup drives.

The result is an all-in-one, local and remote protection approach aimed at small to mid-sized businesses (SMB) that provides double-layer storage and disaster recovery. It also marks the first time the three EMC product lines — Mozy, Retrospect and Iomega — have been brought together in a unified offering.

“This demonstrates the value proposal EMC was looking for in making those purchases,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

It’s a “compelling” offering, he added, since cloud storage and backup drives each provide unique benefits. Internet-based storage — located “in the cloud” — is typically viewed as a disaster-recovery platform. Meanwhile, hard drive storage is nearline data protection technology, situated in business infrastructures between long-term storage and immediate-use storage.

The product comes as small businesses, facing mounting piles of data and increasing regulatory mandates, seek cheap and simple storage tools. A recent IDC report stated that storage hardware revenue growth continues to chug along at a 5 percent rate, with the bulk coming in the small and mid-sized business markets.

In addition, as few SMBs have dedicated IT staff, easier-to-use solutions often appeal to the market segment.

EMC’s product announcement also marks further efforts by the storage giant to solidify a cloud-based services offering for SMBs, although it likely means additional competition with other vendors eyeing the same market with similar services.

For instance, Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) recently pumped up its SMB data protection and backup products as part of its acquisition of Veritas, and other vendors, both large and small, have also moved into the space.

Connecting the Dots

EMC’s new offering represents a combination of three of its recent acquisitions. Mozy, which EMC bought last year, offers both business and consumer online data backup services for Windows and Mac. Iomega, which EMC purchased recently, offers portable hard drives, external drives and network-attached storage (NAS) devices.

The free Retrospect Express application, which EMC acquired from Dantz in 2004, will let users configure both the online service and hard drives using a single interface.

“We aiming to make both the cloud and the hard drive storage element easier to use and simple to configure,” said Steve Fairbanks, director of product management at Mozy.

Mozy currently provides online storage for 750,000 customers, of which 20,000 are small businesses, Fairbanks said. Its servers hold 6.5 billion files, containing 10 petabytes of data. On average, Mozy charges business about 50 cents per gigabyte, he added.

“The Retrospect package provides two levels of protection which small businesses need just as larger companies do,” Fairbanks said. “We’re extending a complete spectrum of protection to SMBs in a more seamless integration fashion.”

Enterprise Strategy Group analyst Lauren Whitehouse said such products offer better “peace of mind” for small enterprises.

“Consider that users’ PCs are vulnerable to fire, flood and theft,” she said. “The vulnerability is that you could lose the primary data and the copy. Then what? If a copy also exists in the cloud, then it can be retrieved from anywhere.”

“The concept of this layered approach to protecting data is done by large companies every day,” she added. “I love that EMC realized that home and SOHO users feel just as protective over their critical data as bigger businesses do.”

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl
Judy Mottl is an experienced technology journalist who has served as a senior editor, reporter, writer, and blogger for InformationWeek, Investors Business Daily, CNET, and Information Security Magazine, as well as other media outlets.

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