Dell targets small business with simple storage array

Look out for the Dell Effect storage vendors

Hoping to gain customers among fast-growing small businesses, Dell has launched a storage array optimized for simple operation and low price.

Dell unveiled the MD3000i, a SAN array that uses the iSCSI protocol so customers can connect it to their existing Ethernet networks instead of more expensive Fibre Channel, Dell CEO Michael Dell said in a Webcast.

Dell will have to battle IBM and Hewlett-Packard in the rush to provide low-cost storage products for the SMB sector. Both companies have launched low-end versions of their storage systems this year. But Dell said on the Webcast that competing products fall short of SMB needs because they are too complex.

In the past, storage vendors have focused too closely on making products for large enterprises, assuming their customers have the sophisticated technical support departments to manage them, Dell said. In contrast, the MD3000i is designed to be simple to manage, and will allow even small businesses to consolidate their server resources through virtualization.

The product will also help small businesses manage the burgeoning amount of data that flows over the Internet and within organizations, without breaking their limited budgets for buying new hardware or hiring IT managers, he said.

Dell is selling the MD3000i worldwide at prices beginning at around $6000 for a 146GB array supporting up to 16 host servers, room for expansion and backup and recovery software. The system uses either SAS or SATA hard disk drives to store up to 18TB of data on 45 drives in a three-system cluster.

Dell's storage product marketing manager for Australia and New Zealand, Paul Berkovic, said the entry-level system is designed for SMBs and enterprise branch offices and complements, rather than competes, with larger systems offered through the Dell-EMC alliance.

"It's a simple product with great performance and no single point of failure," Berkovic said, adding premium software features like snapshotting and virtual disk copy are available at an extra cost.

One local early adopter of the new SAN is Bishop Tyrell Anglican College in NSW. The College's IT director, David Shaw, said for some time it had been looking for a centralized, expandable storage solution but was unable to find something which would easily fit into existing infrastructure, was expandable, or affordable.

"Dell's new MD3000i meets all of our needs," Shaw said.

-- With Rodney Gedda

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