IBM has released two disk arrays designed expressly for small and midsize companies that need the power of high-end storage tools but might lack the in-house staff and knowledge to manage them.
The new System Storage DS3000 line includes a DS3200 and DS3400 model, both of which come with single and dual controller options. Their capacity runs from 3.6 to 14.4 TB, depending on the model and its configuration.
The direct-attached DS3200 starts at $4,495 and offers 3-Gbps speeds over serial-attached SCSI. The faster DS3400, which costs $6,495, runs at 4 Gbps over fibre channel and can be used as direct-attached storage or as part of a storage network.
The new arrays are designed to help companies deal with the tsunami of data flooding their networks. "Small and medium businesses are faced with managing a rising tide of feature-rich e-mail and greater file-print requirements," said IBM's Jim Gargan in a published statement. "These customers need an entry storage product that can grow to meet their needs."
But not all companies have the requisite knowledge to install complex storage systems. As data mushrooms by the day and laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA demand tighter control over storage, tools that combine high-end features with a clear interface become more important -- especially to smaller firms.
"The complexity of storage tools and storage management tools available previously on systems that pretend to target SMBs was one of the factors why mostly medium-sized companies were reluctant to buy into storage, and network storage in particular," said Natalya Yezhkova, research manager of IDC's storage systems program.
The DS3200 and DS3400 come with IBM's Storage Manager software, which can reduce the setup and management process to six quick steps, according to Big Blue. That's good news to companies that don't have in-house experts to handle the hardcore technical details.
"The common reason for this is that many SMBs don't have a dedicated storage specialist or storage managers," said Yezhkova, "and when the system requires specific knowledge about how the system functions, to set it up and manage it, of course it becomes an issue for SMB customers."
IBM is not the first to simplify its tools for the midmarket, and it won't be the last, of course. But its new line shows that even old-school giants are adapting to the complex needs of midmarket firms. "Ease of use and ease of deployment are one of the major factors that vendors should consider," said Yezhkova.