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Iomega Raises Bar For SMB, ROBO Storage

EMC's Iomega is replacing its top-end StorCenter ix12-300r with the StorCenter px12-350r Network Storage Array. The system starts at less than $6,000, with up to 36 Tbytes of storage for less than $10,500. Featuring Intel Core2 Duo Processors; 7,200 RPM hard drives; optional solid state drives; VMware, Citrix and Windows certifications; Hyper-V live migration support; and deduplicating backup with EMC Avamar, the 2U rackmount NAS px12-350r comes in two base configurations: with four 2 Tbyte drives and with four 3 Tbyte drives.

From a hardware perspective, this is an incremental step, says Jay Krone, Iomega’s senior director of network products. The more interesting developments are the support of solid-state drives (SSDs) and what he believes is the first product to support the Avamar dedupe technology in the device itself, which opens up a new market for the company--remote/branch offices (ROBO). "It's a multipurpose tool that not only does storage but backs itself up."

The px12-350r also features a number of data protection capabilities, including RAID 1, 10, 5 and 6 with hot spare, automatic RAID rebuild and hot swap. It supports NAS, SAN and DAS, as well as block and file: iSCSI, NFS, CIFS and AFP.

Originally introduced in May 2010, the ix12 has been sold to thousands of customers, says Krone. Existing customers can upgrade to the new 4 Gbyte memory, as well as add SSDs to their units.

The PX series debuted a year later, in May 2011, moving Iomega from its traditional 25- to 50-user range to the 100- to 250-user range, while still clearly differentiating itself from its parent's entry-level VNX family. Krone says there's a little bit of an overlap between the offerings so a competitor can't slip a product in, but enough difference in pricing (40% to 60%) and storage capacities to separate the two.

The overlap will cause some confusion, says analyst Dave Vellante, The Wikibon Project. "Generally, the VNXe, which is the potential biggest culprit from EMC proper, is at the higher end of the spectrum. Companies like IBM, HP, EMC--the big whales--are going to have overlap. It just has to be managed."

Vellante thinks the most important aspect of the px12-350r is the whole package. "As you know, SMBs have similar needs to giant IT shops; they just don't have the skill sets to customize it the way a Goldman Sachs can. And they need 'just good enough,' not the very best on the planet. So getting the feature sets, the service and ease of use for under $6K is what's key to me."

The services piece is also very important and often overlooked, he adds. "The ability to do self-service because everything is so simple and have EMC's big service organization behind the product is potentially big. If I had to allocate 10 points of value, I would say the SMB puts at least six of those points on ease of use and service and the rest on features and, of course, price."

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