Last week EMC, the computing storage giant, held its annual EMC World show in Las Vegas. The event featured 15,000 customers, most of them from large companies. As such, the presentations and product exhibits were very much geared towards enterprise users. But there were some small business storage gems available, if you knew where to look.
We look at our favorite five products gleaned from the exhibit at EMC World and from discussions with experts attending the show. These range from tools that would fit organizations with as few as two people, as well as a couple of higher-end products aimed more at SMBs with two hundred or more staff and a mature IT infrastructure.
Small Business Storage Products
Let’s begin at the lower end of the scale. Mozy is perhaps best known as a consumer-level data backup service. However, over the last couple of years it has steadily extended its capabilities into the small business arena via MozyPro, which you can obtain either through small business resellers or direct from the company. It also recently added an enterprise-level online backup service once users outgrow MozyPro.
Gytis Barzdukas, director of product management at Mozy, provided one small business scenario to describe MozyPro's capabilities. He said that, for example, a company with 15 people can use MozyPro to backup its desktops and servers by downloading the software to each machine.
"You can centrally administer all backups so that they happen automatically without the users having to worry about them," said Barzdukas. "You can also set rules for each machine to determine the types of files you want to backup. This lets you avoid backing up large collections of family photos or videos that some staff may store on their PCs."
MozyPro's latest feature is mobile access. If someone's laptop dies while they're on the road, they can log in remotely from another computer and download the files they need.
MozyPro storage capacities and pricing goes as follows:
10GB - $9.99
50GB - $19.99
100GB - $39.99
250GB - $94.99
500GB - $189.99
1TB - $379.99
A pricing wizard on the MozyPro pricing page lets you enter up to 50 people before it tells you to call for a custom support. Their inference: if you need more than that amount, you may need to upgrade to the enterprise version.
A competitor of MozyPro, Jungle Disk Workgroup Edition provides secure online file sharing, file synchronization, and data backups for teams of 2 to 100. The service costs $4 per person per month—plus storage fees (the first 10 GB is free per user).
Although the user files reside on cloud computing resources from Amazon.com and Rackspace, they look like they're sitting on a local drive on your computer. You can post files there and then be securely share data between authorized people. You can also limit access to more sensitive data within the company to specific people.
Greg Schulz, an analyst for StorageIO, is familiar with both Mozy and Jungle Disk. "Mozy was great value for what I had been using, however my business simply outgrew it," he said. "With Jungle Disk, billing and pricing is really simple and a good value."
Iomega StorCenter ix2 Network Storage is a compact desktop network storage device for small businesses, home offices or advanced home networks. It provides content sharing, data protection and even some basic video surveillance capabilities. Easy to set up, you plug it in to a network router, power it on and then download some backup software and set up a schedule for backup. Users around the office (or remotely) can access files stored on it. It also supports up to five cameras to capture and store video. A unit with 6 TB costs around $600, while 2 TB retails for $330.
Our last two products move higher up the small business storage food chain. vBlock System 100 by VCE is a product of a collaboration between VMware, Cisco and EMC. These companies are leaders in the areas of virtualization, networking and storage respectively.
VBlock does away with separate boxes for networking, servers and storage. Rapidly growing small businesses that need to move beyond a basic IT infrastructure may want to avoid cobbling together and managing a more complex IT backbone.
Instead of setting up network switches, servers and storage arrays in racks within the server room, you can roll in one vBlock with everything already configured, cabled together and ready to go. Small businesses can start with the smaller vBlock 100BX that includes backup and recovery, data replication and archiving to safeguard applications and data.
One vBlock 100 can scale up to the equivalent of eight large servers, 16 TB of storage and up to 96 GB of memory for each server. Pricing starts at around $180,000. That may seem like an awful lot, but may larger SMBs that have many servers, network switches and a storage area network (SAN) already in place know that the equipment already sitting in their server rooms costs more than that. And as well as reduced hardware costs, vBlock reduces installation, operations and maintenance costs, too.
"The vBlock 100 is good for businesses with a couple of hundred employees and up," said Jay Cuthrell of VCE.
In some ways similar to VCE, MicroKloud by MicroTech is a way for a small business to implement virtualization and cloud computing. A MicroKloud appliance comes with everything configured, and with that box installed, a company can establish its own private cloud environment.
According to Jonathan Luciano, a senior consultant at MicroTech, the company will soon release a very small appliance about the size of a rack server. Priced roughly between $10,000 and $20,000, the hardware and software combo appliance will form a gateway to the cloud and link to external cloud computing resources. While MicroKloud may be appropriate for more mature IT organizations, this upcoming product should be applicable to a broader set of small businesses.
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.
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