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Vendors Debate SANs for SMBs

PHOENIX -- The lack of good storage management software for SMBs turned into a major theme at a panel discussion at the Storage Networking World tradeshow here today.

Representatives from Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) (NYSE: CA), Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX), and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) faced the question of how storage vendors that tout the small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) market as the new sweet spot for SANs may be overlooking a big piece of the puzzle.

Smaller companies can often get low-end SANs up and running without much trouble, but they may flounder in keeping them going. Most software used on SANs is aimed solely at enterprises with technical expertise, and it needs to be reworked before it becomes useful for SMBs.

I talk to these [SMBs] guys a lot,” one consultant in the audience said. “They’re worried about it. [Integrators] will install their SANs, but they’re scared to death about managing them. These guys couldn’t spell LUN if you spotted them the L and the U.”

Software vendors are beginning to catch on. CA's VP of BrightStor product management, Anders Lofgren, says CA is in the process of simplifying its storage management software. “You can’t be giving SMBs 137 feature functions if they only need five,” Lofgren says. “Giving them 137 feature functionalities is a detriment.”

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