Smal businesses have long been plagued by inadequate storage systems. For many, it's a choice between shelling out big time for a system that is geared toward a much larger organization, or accept a stripped-down version of one of the major offerings. Either way, it usually results in a lot of in-house customization by an IT staff(er) already stretched way too thin.
But that appears to be changing as many of the top vendors are tailoring their systems for the SMB market. New out this week is IBM's DS3000 series, which looks to offer a range of management and administration tools usually found on the higher-end systems. About all that's missing from IBM's SMB storage lineup is a solid iSCSI system. Company brass say that one is on the way.
Meanwhile, smaller firms are OEMing a range of solutions for the smaller fry. In Europe, a firm called LaCie has crossed the Intel Entry Storage System SS4000-E with a set of Hitachi 500 GB SATA II drives and repackaged the whole thing as the Ethernet Disk RAID. It's just too bad that the company saw fit to include disk connectors at 1.5 Gpbs, preventing the system from really taking advantage of the 3 Gbps SATA II drives. Still, it offers a good setup for many small businesses to get their feet wet.
The biggest hassle in providing tools for small firms isn't necessarily design and development, but distribution. It's simply been more cost-effective to deliver major installations to the top firms and then draw them down to the remainder of the market. But with most major installations now firmly on the path of one technology/vendor or another, we hope market forces continue to make it worthwhile to pay attention to the little guys.