EMC Bundles Up For SMBs

The move is the latest in a series of new product releases the vendor is using to show it is a force to be reckoned with in the SMB space. Until only a few years ago, EMC focused exclusively on the enterprise market.

The Hopkinton, Mass.-based vendor’s latest foray in this space is the release of two new bundles from its EMC Insignia small-business product lineup. The new bundles are based on EMC’s Clariion AX150 and AX150i entry-level storage arrays, which the vendor introduced early last week. The AX150 has a Fibre Channel interface, while the AX150i has an iSCSI interface.

The first bundle, EMC Insignia Solution for Exchange, includes an array with five 500-Gbyte SATA drives for a total capacity of 2.5 Tbytes, as well as the company’s EMC Storage Administrator for Exchange SMB Edition and EMC Retrospect for Windows backup and recovery software. It is aimed at automating the management of Microsoft Exchange data and migrating customers to Microsoft Exchange Server 2003.

The bundle is suitable for small businesses with four to six servers that have not made the move to a SAN, said Don Chouinard, director of product planning and messaging for the Insignia line. “VARs need to convince customers to stop buying JBOD [just a bunch of disks, or non-RAID] arrays and go for RAID,” he said. “Otherwise, if a disk fails, they can lose their data.”

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The other bundle, EMC Insignia Solution for Data Protection, includes six 500-Gbyte SATA drives in the array, along with EMC Retrospect for Windows. It is aimed at automating the protection of data on a small business’s servers, desktops, notebook PCs and workstations. “Customers realize backups are not getting done,” Chouinard said. “Between 40 [percent] and 60 percent of desktops and notebooks are not getting backed up.”

The EMC Insignia Solution for Exchange is bundle-priced starting at $12,495, which Chouinard said is some $1,200 less than the cost of the different products when bought separately. The EMC Insignia Solution for Data Protection bundle starts at $11,995, at least $900 less than the individual component pricing. Both are currently available, and both qualify for a $500 rebate for solution providers selling them during the second quarter, he said. Those incentives will help partners bring EMC to the small -business space, said Van Kotter, partner at NetPath Systems, a Salt Lake City-based solution provider. “Rebates to the VAR get strong attention,” Kotter said.

EMC’s heightened small-business focus comes at a time when smaller customers are gaining a better understanding of the importance of protecting their data, said Jerry Pape, a principal at Excalibur, a Big Sky, Mont.-based solution provider.

“If you look at the cost to recover a hard drive which has important data on it, the last step for most customers is [Novato, Calif.-based] DriveSavers Data Recovery, the masters of disk recovery,” Pape said. “They have a 98 percent success rate. But if a customer has a bad hard drive, the minimum recovery cost is $3,000. The cost to prevent that? About $300 per system.”

EMC will share its broader strategy this week during its sixth annual EMC Technical World conference, where it will find an audience of partners, customers, press and analysts.

One topic that may come up is a major revision of EMC’s Clariion product series. EMC CEO Joe Tucci last week signaled that the storage giant is set to unveil the new line in the next several weeks.

Tucci noted during the company’s earnings conference call last week that some customers delayed purchases in anticipation of the new Clariion offerings. That contributed to sales for the first quarter ended March 31 coming in slightly below expectations.

“This is not just a refresh, this is a new product cycle starting on Clariion,” said Tucci, adding that the new line represents “a substantially new design.”

EMC posted sales of $2.55 billion for the quarter, up 14 percent from $2.24 billion in the year-ago period. The Wall Street consensus was $2.58 billion, according to a survey of 26 analysts by Thomson First Call.

EMC posted first-quarter earnings of $272.5 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with $269.8 million, or 11 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.