Special Supplement: Small office SANs


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Storage August 2006 Special Supplement

Prices for entry-level Fibre Channel and iSCSI SANs keep falling, putting them within reach of companies with modest storage budgets.

Even smaller businesses need the benefits that SANs and other networked storage systems deliver, particularly in terms of centralized management and backup. Yet these businesses have favored DAS, which leaves them struggling to manage scattered storage and backup data on isolated servers. That's not only costly, but risky.

"Every small business has some data that is extremely valuable," says Mike Karp, senior analyst, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), Boulder, CO.

The need for capabilities like centralized management and backup, data replication, mirroring and snapshots makes "networked storage necessary in the SMB [small- to medium-sized business] space," says Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), Milford, MA.

Beyond backup, SMBs "need to be able to grow their storage at a moment's notice and without causing application downtime," says Duplessie. "Networked storage enables SMBs to get most of the benefits large enterprises get." And, he adds, "they need to get it without it costing a fortune and without their needing a Ph.D. to plug the stuff in."

Until recently, it wasn't feasible to deliver networked storage in the form of Fibre Channel (FC) SANs to SMBs, especially

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smaller organizations. But the falling cost of storage, the emergence of iSCSI, and efforts to simplify the management of FC SANs through GUIs and wizards are making SANs more accessible to companies with limited IT resources.

Storage vendors are developing easier-to-use SAN and NAS products and pricing them within reach of smaller organizations' budgets. Even Microsoft Corp. is getting into the SMB SAN game with its Simple SAN initiative. These products are priced low, and features may have been trimmed and offer only limited flexibility/scalability. In addition, SMBs can opt for a variety of small office/home office USB-based storage offerings.

This was first published in August 2006

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