What's New in Small Business Storage?

Collaboration tools, easing legal document woes, simple storage networks and bigger/better/cheaper hard drives were the highlights for SMBs at the Storage World Conference.

The Storage World Conference (SWC) took place last month in Long Beach, Calif., and there were plenty of new tools on display that will appeal to the SMB market. For example, EMC Corp's collaboration software — eRoom SMB Edition — is designed to provide secure, Web-based workspaces to help teams share information, manage projects and deliver higher quality products, services and supporting materials.

"Using eRoom, employees, partners and suppliers — even groups spread across multiple locations and time zones — work together as if in the same room," says Bill Dunmire, director of product marketing at EMC Insignia of Hopkinton, Mass. "Employees can easily set up work spaces, invite members and manage eRooms without any IT assistance."

The company says this is a good way for people working in teams — such as designers, engineers or planners — to instantly see the status of projects. A central document repository lets you search and access material. The cost is $995 for up to10 people.

Legal Document Discovery Assistance
EVault Inc., meanwhile, is touting its new online e-discovery review service known as EVault Insight. It offers businesses a method for managing electronic document review for litigation, compliance and data retention. Two services are available: Online Review Service, a Web-based hosted repository; and Electronic File Conversion Service for smaller review projects.

"Both services speed up the process of e-discovery by making relevant data quickly and easily accessible to teams tasked with reviewing and finding pertinent information," says Phil Gilmour, president and CEO of EVault.

Small businesses would direct their outside counsel, for example, to use EVault Insight File Conversion Services in business litigation cases, involving 55,000 to 550,000 pages of documents. The outside counsel could then take the converted files and review them more efficiently.

SAN Simplicity
Probably the highlight of the show, from a small business perspective, was a really simple Storage Area Network (SAN) from Zetera Corp. In conjunction with Bell Microproducts Inc., the company has developed the Hammer Z-Series to make it a easy for a small business to implement a SAN

Normally SANs are a no-no at the SMB level as they involve expensive Fibre Channel technology or take up way too much IT installation and maintenance hours. Zetera says it has stripped the technology down to the bare bones for the sake of ease-of use and low cost, while loosing little in terms of functionality.

"Most SMBs don't have a SAN, and when I ask them why, they tell me they are too small to have one and that SANs are too complex and expensive," says Jeff Greenberg, senior director of product marketing at Zetera Corp. "All you need to implement the Hammer Z-Series is an Ethernet port."

Each unit, he says, has a throughput of 80 MB/second. Any computer on the network can access the unit and store or retrieve data rapidly. A small desktop version contains 1 TB of capacity and costs $1,299. The data within is protected using RAID. Larger versions are available.

"The Hammer Z-Series is perfect for a dentist's office or other small office," says Greenberg. "Anyone who can manage a Linksys router can manage our SAN."

Do the Crazy Hard Drive
Several vendors at SWC were loudly promoting the latest and greatest hard drive technology. Imation Corp.'s Odyssey is a removable hard disk drive (RHDD) backup cartridge for small businesses.

The Odyssey cartridge was designed to withstand high shock forces by adding protection in especially vulnerable areas. Its connections are designed to withstand thousands of insertions without damage and it has built in electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection to prevent data loss

"Small business backup requires cartridge connector reliability and shock protection," says Yung Yip, a research scientist at Imation. "The Odyssey cartridge contains a 2.5-inch hard drive and its docking station fits into any 3.5-inch drive bay."

Similarly, Quantum Corp is promoting its GoVault removable drive storage designed for SMB and remote offices as a way to simplify archiving, backup and recovery — and as an alternative to tape. It consists of removable drive cartridges, a docking station and bundled backup software

According to research conducted by Quantum, up to 60 percent of SMB customers do not regularly back up their servers and often have no offsite copies of data. In addition, many smaller businesses see managing tape media and tape rotation as too time-consuming and complex.

"Quantum's research suggests two distinct user classifications with regard to IT practices — companies with some dedicated IT resources and companies where IT is just one of several essential business responsibilities handled by a single person," says Greg Fredericks, director of product marketing for Quantum. "It is this latter group of customers we believe would benefit most from the GoVault drive."

GoVault has a transfer rate of 94 GB per hour, each cartridge weighs about 3.4 ounces, and it is offered in three capacities: 40GB, 80GB and 120GB. The $0GB version costs approximately $299.

Seagate Technology displayed a collection of the newest SMB-oriented drives. As a backup tool or for extra disk space, its eSATA External Hard Drive offers high performance in either a 300GB or 500GB capacity.

Its 750 GB Pushbutton Backup External Hard Drive is designed to offer high capacity in a very small footprint — about the same size as home office router (roughly 7- by 6- by 3-inches).

Plenty for Small Businesses
The good thing about SWC is that its organizers provide an excellent mix of vendors so there are plenty of companies that focus solely on the SMB market. Two or three well-attended small business sessions were chock-full of useful tips, including how to get the big vendors to pay attention to smaller companies, and how to get more bang for your storage dollars.

SWC founder and chairman Daniel Delshad understands that SMBs may be small in size, but collectively it is a huge slice of the total pie. As a result, he has added more relevant small biz content to his show and has even added an East coast conference in Boston scheduled for this September.

"Small businesses now account for more than a third of the total storage marketplace," says Delshad. "We are adding more and more SMB content to our Storage World agendas."

He also encourages small businesses to join the Association of Storage Networking Professionals where they can receive help from peers and storage experts.

Drew Robb is a Los Angeles-based freelancer specializing in technology and engineering. Originally from Scotland, he graduated with a degree in geology from Glasgow's Strathclyde University. In recent years he has authored hundreds of articles as well as the book, Server Disk Management by CRC Press.

This article was first published on SmallBusinessComputing.com.






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