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The SMB Storage Gap

Are small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as Michael Dell asserts, "under-served by storage vendors? Perhaps. But one can also ask: What sector of the broad and generic SMB market is being under-served? And is that due to lack of product functionality, price, or ease of use? Is it even easy to buy an SMB storage solution?

Answers to all these questions depend on your definition of the SMB market itself, which is broad and diverse. It ranges from the small office home office (SOHO) that makes up the “small” in SMB to what some might think of as small enterprises, the “medium” portion. I regularly see various classifications based on the number of employees, the number of servers or amount of storage, the annual revenue, or even the amount spent on IT.

Products are classed for the SMB market according to pricing, capacity, or functionality, as well as sales channel (direct, VAR/distributor, or OEM).

Despite this multilayered pigeonholing exercise, coherent product strategies are rare.

There are several reasons for this state of affairs. A common theme I hear from technology vendors, particularly those racing to adapt or embrace the SMB market (whichever part of it they are pursuing), is that simple, easy-to-use GUIs and setup wizards are the silver bullet and differentiator for SMB-focused solutions. Another battle cry has to do with what other vendors don’t offer or don't include in their solutions.

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