EMC Heads Downmarket

Unveils its Insignia range of stripped-down products for SMBs. Will users bite?

February 6, 2006

4 Min Read
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EMC is taking a major swipe at the SMB market today, unveiling its Insignia product family of stripped-down enterprise software and hardware targeted at small and medium-sized businesses. But convincing users that EMC is a serious player in the low end may take some doing.

The Insignia range mainly comprises software: Included are scaled-down, cut-price versions of EMC's VisualSRM storage management product, its RepliStor replication software, and its eRoom offering. A new version of the Retrospect backup-and-recovery software EMC acquired when it bought Dantz is also part of the lineup, along with its existing AX100 storage array. (See EMC Dances With Dantz and EMC Cultivates Clariion.)

EMC is also recruiting a slew of SMB-specific channel partners, VARs, and resellers to sell these products to the masses, in an offshoot of the companys existing Velocity partner program. (See EMC Extends Partner Program and EMC Intros Partner Program.) “We have always been interested in moving downmarket,” says Don Chouinard, director of product marketing at EMC. “What we haven’t had is a family of products that’s going through a channel dedicated to SMBs."

The question is whether these efforts can help change EMC's image with smaller shops. At least one user remains unfazed by news of the campaign. Al Prendergast, CIO of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, told Byte and Switch that, despite all the EMC marketing spiel, he is unlikely to consider Insignia. “We perceive them as an enterprise player -- our storage needs are much less than that.”

Prendergast mostly uses storage gear from EMC partner Dell, which has done well reselling EMC gear to its server customers -- without making EMC an SMB conduit in its own right. (See Dell-Symantec: No Big Deal and Dude, Where's My PC?) In his view, EMC, particularly with its new SMB replication and backup software, is offering a level of sophistication he simply doesn’t need. “We still backup to tape,” he says. “We don’t do any NAS, we don’t do anything fancy.”This is not the first time EMC has fluttered its eyelashes in the direction of SMBs. Last year the vendor unveiled its “Making Storage Simple" program aimed specifically at selling its SANs to small businesses. (See EMC Courts SMBs and EMC Takes Simple Approach.)

But now EMC is pushing harder, looking to woo users with new pricing for a concerted push into smaller data centers. The SMB version of VisualSRM, for example, is priced at $995, compared to a base price of $1,440 for the existing enterprise version. However, the SMB offering has a maximum capacity of 6 Tbytes, compared to the enterprise product’s unlimited capacity.

Likewise, the new SMB edition of RepliStor is priced at $995 per node, compared to $1,650 per node on the enterprise version. But unlike its big brother, RepliStor SMB edition does not come with either failover or support for Visual Source Safe (VSS) snapshots.

The new version of the eRoom collaboration software, which lets users in separate locations work together via the Web, has similarly been scaled down to 10 users, whereas the enterprise edition starts at 50 users. Pricing for the new package is also $995, although Chouinard was unable to give a typical list price for the enterprise eRoom.

Prices on the new version of Retrospect, 7.5, have not changed, and the software’s base price remains $400. But Chouinard says EMC has added new features to the product, including the ability for individual end users to restore data via a Web-based interface. Previously, only a network administrator was able to do this, he says.Despite the challenge EMC faces with SMBs, analysts say the new product line, which will be up against the likes of CA’s BrightStor and Veritas’s Backup Exec and Storage Exec products, is a shrewd move. According to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, “A lot of SMBs are ending up with enterprise amounts of storage... There’s a growing recognition in SMBs that having the necessary tools to manage their storage is critical.”

“Customers are waiting for this type of thing,” says Ray Boggs, vice president of SMB research at analyst firm IDC. “Users are running out of storage capacity.”

The question appears to be whether EMC's moves, particularly in pricing, will be sufficient to convince customers the company's an SMB bargain.

Boggs warns that EMC will need to concentrate on its channel strategy if it wants to win hearts and minds. “Because they have poor [SMB] visibility they need to choose their partners carefully,” he says. “They are not a household brand in the SMB space like Dell or HP.”

Chouinard was unable to say how many partners EMC has signed up so far.— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • CA Inc. (NYSE: CA)

  • Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • EMC Dantz

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IDC

  • Pund-IT Inc.

  • Veritas Software Corp.

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