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The Battle for Smallsville

If you own a home office, it's not likely you've thought much about buying networked storage unless you're running some sort of video production company out of your basement. (Please! I don't want to know – really!)

The point is that SAN or NAS products aren't the sort of thing one buys at the local computer shop. Not even on special order. Fibre Channel gear is arcane, complicated, expensive. NAS is a lot harder to set up than your local email account. After all, whole companies are dedicated just to explaining this kit to technology experts at large corporations.

But a growing roster of vendors argue that storage networks shouldn't be restricted to big enterprises. In fact, many storage suppliers assert that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are better prospects than many large companies.

There are several elements to the SMB rationale. The biggest one is that users of all kinds need more storage. Retail stores, doctor's and lawyer's offices, small manufacturing companies, consultancies, and even home entertainment centers – all produce and require more data than ever. Those old desktop add-on boxes aren't cutting it when it comes to storing graphics, inventory and accounting data, movies, images, documents, photos, and other digital paraphernalia.

But getting storage technologies that once baffled the brightest ITers into a form consumable by your average small businessperson is no small project. Still, vendors are intent on doing just that.

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