Dell targets SME market with storage server

As IT suppliers court small businesses, Dell is hoping that its latest offering, a low-cost storage array, may corner the market
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

On Monday, Dell hosted a worldwide launch for a new storage server that it hopes will be the key to the small- and medium-sized business market.

Dell — like its peers, IBM, HP and Sun, among others — has been desperately courting the SME market. Chief executive Michael Dell believes his company's storage server, known as the MD3000i, might be just the system to bring success.

"We are committed to IT simplification for our customers and changing the economics of storage," said the chief executive on Tuesday. "The MD3000i is a perfect example of how we drive out costs, drive up functionality and drive industry adoption of technologies and standards to meet customer needs."

According to the vice president for global commercial marketing at Dell, Todd Forsythe, the product is a "breakthrough technology that will change the small-business market".

The idea is that the MD3000i will fit seamlessly into Dell's product line, offering a low-end entry point for small businesses looking to consolidate their storage in a simple-to-use system.

According to Forsythe, the small array is "very straightforward to use", as it comes with an interface that allows users to set up a storage system with simple, one-touch commands.

Dell said that a complete unit would cost around £5,497, but was unable to give precise details of what features a system of that price would have. Dell, like any supplier, faces the issue, when trying to simplify storage for the SME market, that price depends on what the customer wants.

The Dell MD3000i is a flexible system. It offers a choice of iSCSI, SATA or SAS disk drives but the company is putting the emphasis on the iSCSI standard. Forsythe acknowledged that the standard has its critics but argued that it has already answered them in all areas. He said, for example: "The myth is that it will slow down the system, but for applications in the real world, like Exchange and databases, there is no effect on performance."

Dell promises to expand more quickly in storage now. "We are the fastest-growing Tier 1 storage vendor," said Michael Dell, adding that there was a clear reason why. "We have reduced the starting cost for networked storage by 91 percent." The company's offering is also "easy to expand and much more affordable than the competition", he said.

The chief executive would not mention the competition by name, but it seemed clear that he had companies like IBM and HP, along with specialised storage vendors, in mind. However, he steered clear of putting EMC up as a competitor, pointing out that, apart from Dell's need to co-operate closely with EMC's virtualisation company, VMware, EMC is still a partner on high-end storage. "We will continue to offer Fibre Channel with our great partner, EMC," Michael Dell said.


Dell hopes its MD3000i storage server will help it corner the small-business market
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