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Vendors shrink D2D archiving boxes for smaller shops

IBM and EMC have reduced the size of their disk-based archiving products to attract smaller businesses, but the price is still high.

IBM and EMC Corp. announced lighter versions of their respective disk-based archiving products this week, recognizing that the current versions of these systems are not getting traction with smaller companies.

This situation is clearly revealed in Storage magazine's Spring 2005 Purchasing Intentions Survey, which polled 570 storage professionals on their buying decisions this year. The full results of the survey will be released in the June issue of Storage and presented at the Storage Decisions show later this month. Of the 146 small companies that took the survey, only six, or about 4%, said they had employed disk using content-addressable or other WORM technology like EMC's Centera. A much larger number, 55, or about 38%, said they had deployed backup to disk and then to tape. And approximately 30% said they were backing up to disk and then archiving to tape.

The survey classifies small companies as those with annual revenues of under $100 million. Respondents said that compared to 2004, in 2005 spending for disk-to-disk backup systems will probably increase 40%. Only 5.5% said they would decrease spending on this technology in 2005. In an effort to capture this underserved chunk of the market, IBM and EMC have reduced the size and price of their enterprise archiving boxes. EMC unveiled a four-node configuration of its Centera system, available this month. It offers 2.2 terabytes (TB) of usable capacity at $100,000, a 35% lower list price than the 8-node version. While on the surface it seems obvious that half the number of nodes and half the capacity should equal half the price, EMC said there is more to the configuration than just nodes. "While we reduced the number of nodes by 50%, we could not reduce the total number of components in the system by 50%," a company spokesperson said.

EMC noted that its new entry point Centera is really aimed at midsize enterprises, which it characterizes as those with annual revenues of $100 million to $1 billion. IBM on the other hand is reaching down further to companies with under 1,000 employees. In the second quarter this year, it will release a 1.1 TB version of its DR550 archiving system for approximately $50,000, which is 40% less than its current entry-level product, which ships with 3.5 TB. The new version integrates storage, server and Tivoli Storage Manager for storing data in nonerasable and nonrewritable formats. "Even at the best possible pricing, none of these products reach down to small businesses -- it's not bargain basement prices … IBM and EMC are good at scaling up and out, but not so good at scaling down," said Michael Karp, analyst with Enterprise Management Associates. He said that archiving and compliance products from companies like Intradyn Inc. and Mimosa Inc. are designed from the ground up for small businesses and priced appropriately. "They also take into account the ease-of-use requirements of smaller shops."

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