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Say the words “home office” and “EMC” in the same sentence, and something just doesn’t seem right, does it? But the storage titan is targeting the small office-home office (SOHO) market with a vengeance.

EMC’s vessel is LifeLine OEM Software, which promises to help small home office users centralize, organize and secure digital files and anything from Excel payroll documents to family photos and everything in between.

What’s unique is that while EMC is aiming at the SOHO user, it’s not a direct sell. Instead, the vendor’s working with SOHO device manufacturers/partners such as Intel, which just pushed out the Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-E this week at CES featuring the Lifeline application.

According to an EMC spokesperson, the OEM partner model gives EMC “the broadest technology portfolio from which to create offerings for these markets.”

Iomega has also jumped on the Lifeline bandwagon, with CEO Jonathan Huberman stating in a release that his company is partnering with EMC on a new line of Iomega-branded network storage products for the consumer and SMB market.

The LifeLine software is browser-based and managed through game consoles as well as desktops. It supports Windows and Macintosh and provides data protection capabilities such as RAID and EMC’s Retrospect backup software. The application even takes in “green” concerns, since the built-in disk drive offers a spin-down function.

But it’s not just all about preserving family memories and cherished video clips. The Lifeline product also offers advanced file sharing, data management and data protection features. For example, users can search inside file content using keywords and there’s even a printer server.

The move is an unusual one for EMC, moving it down into a market populated by the likes of Buffalo TeraStation, as the race for SMB storage customers enters a new phase.

Online storage providers are also kicking down SMB doors these days, offering efficient, less IT-intensive alternatives to running storage networks. As one analyst explained in a recent article, “Online backup services are particularly attractive to the SMB market, as this meets some of their unique needs.”

EMC has already targeted the online backup market with the acquisition of Mozy, prompting IBM to follow two months later by scooping up Arsenal Digital.

The scrabble to grab big chunks of the SOHO storage pie won’t be dying down anytime soon, given that SOHOs continue to grow in numbers, with nearly 35 million home office households up and operating in 2005, according to an IDC research report. No wonder EMC and other vendors view it, and the consumer storage market, as “growth opportunities for the future.”

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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