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Hitachi Data Systems announces new storage options for SMBs

Hitachi Data Systems announces new storage solutions for the SMB market that target customers with Microsoft-based solutions.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. is taking another step into the mid-size storage market by introducing a series of new bundles of its own storage, backup and recovery products; the packages are designed to support Microsoft Corp. applications.

The bundles are aimed at medium-sized customers who have to manage growing data volumes, cost and compliance requirements in applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Windows Vista.

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Typically, companies in the mid-market are characterized by few IT managers that have budget constraints and little time to mull over a slew of offerings for their data needs. With that in mind, Hitachi says it's depending on its value-added resellers (VARs) to generate some of the leads as well as to implement the product bundles, which are designed to be easier to install and manage than higher-end packages.

Hitachi's part of the bundles includes its Data Protection Suite software, including Hitachi Backup and Recovery, and Hitachi Quick Recovery software with iDataAgents (iDAs), a CommVault Systems Inc. distribution of the open source SQL Server, which provides online database protection.

On the hardware side are three models of Hitachi's TagmaStore Adaptable Modular Storage Units. The basic configuration of the whole package lists for $51,000.

By recasting, bundling and pricing these products for the mid-market, Hitachi execs said, the company is trying to expand the number of options its VARs can offer their own customers to solve evolving storage problems.

"We want to continue to expand our services capability so that the partners can gain the services revenue associated with delivering a lot of these solutions," said Karen Sigman, Hitachi's vice president, global channels.

IDC analyst Janet Waxman said the new packages provide a benefit to Hitachi's reseller partners who can simplify data management for their customers in the mid market by offering an integrated hardware/software suite that is much easier to configure and operate than higher-end systems, but provides almost the same level of functionality.

Other analysts said that helping customers with their data running on Microsoft solutions will help Hitachi's credibility in the SMB market segment.

"Coming up with good Microsoft-environment solutions to make it easier to run Exchange and SQL Server on Hitachi products makes it much more compelling for customers to use Hitachi products across their whole data center," said Andrew Reichman, storage analyst with Forrester Research, Cambridge, Mass. "This is where storage is going, you can't differentiate on technology and engineering alone, you need to differentiate yourself with ease-of-use of applications."

Another bundled hardware and software set addresses storage consolidation. Here Hitachi is using its TagamaStore line of storage products including the Hitachi TagmaStore Workgroup Modular Storage, the Adaptable Modular Storage and the Network Storage Controller, and a host of its own software applications including its HiCommand Device Manager and the HiCommand Tiered storage manager. The basic configuration costs $30,000.

For data protection and disaster recovery, Hitachi merges its backup-and-recovery software, and its data-migration/archiving software with its AMS hardware storage products, whose capacity ranges from under 2 terabytes (TB) to 208TB. The basic configuration for the mid market is $37,000.

"These solutions may not be as robust as the enterprise solutions are, but for the mid market client, all of a sudden this is attainable," Sigman said.

According to Sigman, by bundling the packages the company has made it easier to show VARs the roadmap on how the technologies go together to solve the problems. Hitachi also says it wants its channel partners to start to gain the services revenue associated with delivering a lot of these solutions.

She also observed that the low end market is seeking pre-packaged solutions while high-end buyers are still looking for customized systems that are far more expensive.

The mid market, which consists of companies like small banks, law firms or manufacturing companies, need a little of both.

"They need simplicity but with a reasonable price point and with the flexibility because their environments are not that simple," Sigman added

While Hitachi is known for its high-end storage products, the December 18th announcement follows the introduction earlier this month of the starter solution for SAN-based consolidation and data backup built on the new Hitachi Thunder 9520V workgroup modular storage system. This offering targets SMB customers that have the Microsoft Windows 2003 server platform.

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