Three hardware vendors are working to make storage systems more attractive to small and midsize companies. Dell and EMC Corp. are extending their partnership to provide low-end, commodity storage to customers next year, and Hewlett-Packard is offering a low-cost system for first-time external storage buyers.
Despite Dell's vaunted supply-chain operations, it isn't yet taking over manufacturing for EMC. It will remain a distributor for the new low-end storage that conforms to the Internet SCSI protocol. The iSCSI protocol converts blocks of data into a form that won't choke the IP network, but it has performance limitations. HP last week started shipping HP StorageWorks Modular Smart Arrays, which let customers choose different levels of performance and pay accordingly. HP can gain traction in the market, says analyst Mike Fisch of the Clipper Group, but the Dell and EMC combination is hard to beat. Says Fisch, "Dell is just good at delivering commodity products."