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Another Look at Dell's SMB Rant

Michael Dell's assertion that SMBs are "under-served" by storage vendors has provoked a mixed response from various industry sources. During yesterday's announcement of Dell's new iSCSI SAN, the CEO of the firm that shares his name said SMBs face the unacceptable choice of settling for skimpy solutions or buying stripped-down and overpriced versions of enterprise arrays.

Surely enough, when it comes to SANs, price is always an issue. And for years now, analysts and industry pundits have accused storage suppliers of short-shrifting non-enterprise customers with smaller and less capable versions of their products.

On the other hand, who says SMBs need SANs? And even if they do, haven't a slew of vendors, including EMC, IBM, and NetApp, offered iSCSI as a lower-end SAN solution for years?

The answer appears to be "Yes, but..." True, IDC research quoted by Dell indicates that less than 20 percent of SMBs and medium-sized firms use SANs. At the same time, though, IDC issued the following in its statement about the firm's latest Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker this week: "[T]he iSCSI SAN market continues to show strong momentum, posting 57.2% revenue growth year over year, reaching $191 million in the second quarter. Network Appliance continues to lead the market with 21.3% share, followed by EMC with 16.8% share."

Okay, we know iSCSI isn't automatically a fit for SMBs. It can be just as tough to implement as Fibre Channel if one doesn't have the right skill set -- or if the equipment and software isn't tailored for a less-trained implementer. But doesn't it stand to reason that if you're looking at a SAN in the first place, you must either know what you're doing or have someone with you who does?

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