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EMC restructures SMB storage division

EMC's Insignia group, originally a separate business unit, has seen layoffs and a restructuring, but EMC says it has no plans to discontinue its SMB products.

Rumors have been swirling this week that EMC Corp. is planning to shut down its Insignia line of products aimed at small and midsized businesses (SMB), but EMC said the restructuring of the group is part of an ongoing "streamlining" of the company as a whole, and that there are no plans to discontinue any products.

EMC's director of public relations Michael Gallant confirmed on Tuesday that there have been approximately 40 layoffs in the group, launched in February 2006. Insignia was initially a separate business unit, Gallant said, but as part of an effort to "streamline" its overall operations, it has been brought under the main channel group within EMC.

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"There has been a shift in oversight of the group," Gallant told "But the majority of customer and partner-facing staff, as well as engineering, have remained with the company."

Competitors have been floating rumors that EMC had plans to shut down the entire line of SMB products and realign its SMB business through reseller deals with Dell Inc., an idea Gallant categorically denied.

"The Velocity SMB partner program has more than 1,300 partners worldwide, and we had record results for the [Clariion] AX150 and [EMC] Retrospect in the third quarter of last year," he said. "It's part of our overall streamlining and restructuring going on right now."

EMC cut 1,000 jobs in 2006, and following a boatload of acquisitions last year, including the $2.1 billion merger with RSA Security Inc. in June, announced it would cut 1,250 jobs in 2007 last October. This week, that number has been raised to 1,350. The channel group, of which Insignia is now a part, has also undergone a reshuffling in recent months (See, EMC shuffles channel deck, Oct. 26).

"When you make as many acquisitions as we've done, sometimes you need to take a breather and regroup," Gallant said. "But in overall headcount, we still expect to finish the year 2007 with a larger employee base than we started with."

The Insignia line of products began with the scaled down AX array and a light version of the Retrospect backup software for Windows and Macintosh. The AX150, offering up to 6 terabytes (TB) capacity, is priced at $5,500; Version 7.5 of the disk-to-disk backup and recovery software is priced between $399 and $1,449. The Retrospect software has done particularly well, and has been bundled into SMB and consumer products by a number of partners, most recently LaCie with its Quadra hard drive.

Also, part of the initial launch was EMC Storage Administrator for Exchange SMB Edition, which works with the Clariion AX series for email backup, as well as migration to Exchange Server 2003; RepliStor SMB Edition replication software; VisualSRM SMB Edition software; and eRoom SMB edition collaboration software. EMC added to its SMB offerings in another announcement in April 2006 with the introduction of product packages for automated Exchange backup and migration, called the EMC Insignia Solution for Exchange, and disk-based backup, called the EMC Insignia Solution for Data Protection.

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