• United States

Grown-up storage for SMBs

Apr 27, 20044 mins
Data Center

* Industrial-strength data-management software becomes available to SMBs

When Microsoft released iSCSI drivers last summer for the Windows Server and XP platforms, it put its imperial seal of approval on iSCSI as the storage standard for small and midsize businesses.  As a result, when Windows-based iSCSI products began to hit the marketplace the SMB segment began to feel less and less like the forgotten child it had been for so long.

With very few exceptions, the SMB space has been a Microsoft environment for many years now.  The IT investments of this segment are very small compared those in the enterprise space, but critical data is just as important to the SMB boss as it is to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.  The numbers on the spreadsheets are different, but the criticality of the data doesn’t diminish simply because a company is small.

It is no wonder then that people running businesses in this segment want the same level of data protection and data management as do their counterparts at the large companies.

Back-up and recovery solutions have been available from a number of sources for some time now, of course.  Products such as Dantz’s Retrospect ( are extremely reliable, and I know from personal experience that Retrospect works well in both desktop and server environments.

But until recently, data management in the SMB space was frequently a pretty haphazard affair, and product choices were often selections between a number of partial solutions.  Most managers in SMBs run Windows shops, and because of their familiarity with Windows the managers chose either Windows-based solutions that were limited in functionality, or Linux-based solutions that may have been more robust, but also were more technically demanding and required additional investment in training for their staffs (if indeed they had such). 

Storage-area network-based storage, with its advantages of manageability, performance and data sharing, has pretty much been beyond the grasp of most people in this space.

Now times are changing, and industrial-strength data-management solutions are working their way down to the SMB data center.  Finally, it looks like smaller firms will have some of the same advantages as do the larger ones.

FalconStor’s just-announced iSCSI Storage Server is a good example of how SMB managers can acquire enterprise class networked storage for their shops and run with the big guys. 

Based on its IPStor technology (running in very large environments for several years now), the FalconStor solution uses the same Windows operating system that SMB managers are already familiar with (note that Microsoft now calls its storage platform, Storage Server 2003), and provides all the provisioning and manageability one would expect from iSCSI.

IPStor pools the data so multiple servers can access it, but it also does much more.  For example, it offers long-distance – as in coast-to-coast – replication services, so even if an entire site goes down the data is safe at the remote site (FalconStor reports beta sites doing replication between Singapore and Tokyo, and further states that the device tunes itself to account for the latencies inherent in such long haul asynchronous communications).

If you don’t care about transcontinental replication, you will still find plenty to like here.  Data protection includes capabilities for snapshoting, disk mirroring and clustering.   Furthermore, because the software works with existing back-up and recovery products, managers at sites with direct-attach storage and shrinking maintenance windows are sure to appreciate the time savings that will result from using their existing backup software to back up from a centralized disk pool.

If DAS is still the order of the day at your site but you are interested scoping out in the advantages of moving up to networked storage, check out the FalconStor Web site (