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Enterprise Storage Vendors Try Again to Woo SMB Market

Enterprise storage vendors are making another run at the small and mid-sized business (SMB) market, rolling out a new wave of products with high-level features they promise are simple, affordable, and easy-to-manage by businesses with few IT resources to dedicate to storage management.

It isn't the first time that enterprise storage vendors have targeted the SMB market. But they haven't had a great deal of success winning over smaller companies that are interested in the capabilities of networked or shared storage systems, but can't handle the complexity they add to their IT infrastructure.

"Most major vendors failed with their initial attempts to address the SMB market because they watered down their enterprise products, Ben Woo, vice president of storage systems at IDC , told ByteandSwitch. "Smaller businesses, which can easily now have a terabyte or more of storage, need the same features and functions as larger companies. Size doesn't matter, it's whether they have the resources to handle the day-to-day challenges of information management."

IDC predicts that file-based storage will continue to grow by 80 percent a year through 2011, and that most SMB IT departments will be looking for hardware and software products that will help them simplify and automate the storing, movement, backup, and management of that data. Those trends are helping to fuel a wave of products ranging from simple appliances to wizard-based management software to online backup services, all aimed at the small and mid-sized business market or the branch/remote office market.

"The key point is the ability to manage it all. Enterprise vendors in the past offered storage management applications with training wheels," Charles King, president of analyst firm Pund-IT Inc. , told ByteandSwitch. "These days large vendors like EMC, IBM, HP, Dell and many others are being much smarter than in the past and are beginning to offer tools that contain what smaller businesses want."

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