Dell Throws Small Businesses a Storage Line

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SAN FRANCISCO — Saying that the small to medium-sized business  market has been “underserved,” Dell today introduced a new storage system especially for the sector.

The problem, according to Dell CEO Michael Dell, is SMB-oriented storage is either a stripped down, crippled versions of an enterprise product, or the enterprise product is scaled down slightly but still expense. “It either costs too much or doesn’t do what you want it to do,” Dell told a gathering of customers and reporters here yesterday.

As a result, 75 percent of SMBs don’t use storage systems. Dell’s new MD3000i is being positioned as the more affordable alternative storage solution than those from “alphabet soup” providers, as Darren Thomas, vice president and general manage of the storage division at Dell put it.

dell md3000i

Storage for the SMB.

Source: Dell

The MD3000i starts at $13,000, while competing products start at around $15,000. Not much of a difference. But Dell says it spares SMBs the added pain of not tacking on additional software licenses as you add more drives or shelves.

But the Dell server can add more shelves and drives without inflating the software license, and the drives are 40 percent cheaper than competitive drives, Thomas said, so as it grows and scales in performance and capacity, the expenses are kept down.

The MD3000i uses iSCSI instead of Fibre Channel, which means it operates over an Ethernet network. This makes it easily configurable over the network and it uses Ethernet authentication and encryption, making it as secure as Fibre Channel, Thomas said.

The device offers redundant power supplies and cooling fans that are hot swappable, meaning they can be replaced while the machine remains on and in use.

The entire system is driven by configuration wizards that detect the storage servers and automatically pair them with the physical server of the administrator’s choosing. This discovery and pairing is all done with a few clicks.

Robert Boyle, CEO of Tellurian Networks, a managed hosting provider serving medical, financial and legal customers, joined Dell onstage to commend the company on the product. “It’s a very polished product. It feels like a version three or version four product. It doesn’t feel like a new product,” he said.

Tellurian has a SAN  in its environment now but it takes two technicians two days to configure it. Not so with the MD3000i. “Our people can set something up and running in 20 minutes instead of three days,” said Boyle.

After the presentation, Dell and other executives held a briefing with journalists where all manner of issues were discussed. Dell said that he expects the MD3000i to do well because storage is often sold with servers. “So as we’re selling a lot of servers, it follows we’re going to sell a lot of storage,” he said.

He also said Dell is looking to grow its VAR and reseller channel, it’s finding new partners in Europe and Asia, and that the Wal-Mart “experiment” went well and it will be an expanded rollout soon.

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