Storage vendors address SMBs

Many believe the differences between an enterprise and an SMB (small to midsize business) storage problem is a matter of size. Overland Storage Inc. hopes to bridge those differences this week by introducing the REO 4000, its second disk-based family of storage appliances aimed at SMBs.

According to Peri Grover, director of product management at Overland, SMBs encounter the same storage management difficulties that enterprises do but have fewer people and less money to rectify them. To address SMB needs, Overland has equipped the REO 4000 with features typically reserved for an enterprise system, including tape emulation technology, simultaneous support for iSCSI (Internet SCSI) and Fibre Channel, and RAID 5 protection.

Despite the numerous features, the family -- which is based on technology Overland acquired from Okapi Software in June 2003 -- is still priced for SMBs, Grover said. The family consists of four models, ranging from the 2U, 2TB 4001 model to the 8U, 8TB 4004. All are equipped with 250GB SATA (Serial ATA) disks.

Grover said that Overland, a traditional tape vendor, believes it will be successful with disk-based appliances because companies often choose to stay with their longtime tape vendors rather than switch to startups.

This idea has not been lost on other traditional tape vendors such as ADIC, Quantum Corp., and Storage Technology Corp., each of which has entered the disk-based appliance fray. Overland, however, is the only vendor that has thus far released a product aimed specifically at SMBs.

Arun Taneja, founder of research company Taneja Group, said that to be successful in the SMB space vendors must focus less on performance and more on the "out-of-the-box" experience because, as Overland's Grover has said, SMBs do not have the people or money to babysit backup processes.

Taneja believes the SMB market provides a ripe opportunity for vendors. "There are a whole slew of vendors targeting the enterprise, but the SMB market is wide open," Taneja said.

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