Dell targets SMB with simple storage array

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

Dell unveiled the MD3000i, a SAN (storage area network) 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 Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. in the rush to provide low-cost storage products for the small and medium-size business (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. That makes the array a good fit for beta testers such as Tellurian Networks Inc., a medical records hosting company, and Pennsylvania State University, which manages a host of small departments. Executives from both organizations spoke at the press conference.

Dell is selling the MD3000i worldwide at prices beginning under US$10,000 for an 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 18T bytes of data on 45 drives.

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