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Despite the general corporate IT belt-tightening, users are, increasingly, looking for small, powerful disk arrays that can centralise storage and scale across distributed networks
EMC, Network Appliance, Hitachi Data Systems, Hewlett-Packard and Brocade Communications Systems are all experiencing sales increased sales of mid-market products, according to a report issued last month by Clinton Vaughan, an analyst at investment banker Salomon Smith Barney Holdings.
The shift in demand has seen vendors such as EMC and Hitachi rush to pump up the performance of their "modular" midrange products and scale down their high-end arrays to fit the needs of departments and mid-market companies.
Hitachi, for example, plans to introduce later this year a storage array that will use its high-end Lightning 9900 V Series architecture but will target the mid-market.
The device will offer higher performance than the Thunder 9200 array, a scaled-down version of Hitachi's Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 box, which was released last year.
Last month, EMC added a CX600 model to its Clariion midrange product line that targets the upper levels of the mid-market and departmental sector. The company also plans to build a scaled-down version of its high-end Symmetrix array that will be positioned above the CX600, executives said.
Because of software advances on mid-range devices, IT managers "can achieve a heck of a lot of performance from a modular system at a much better price" than they would pay for high-end arrays, said Arun Taneja, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group.
Bob Schultz, vice-president of marketing solutions for network storage at HP, said his company has been selling modular arrays for four years and is seeing greater traction in that market. "We see customers who previously were buying monolithic storage moving to a modular architecture," he said.