Sales of Dell's third-party storage products increased by as much as 70% during its third quarter, compared with the same period last year, said Ro Parra, senior vice-president of Dell's Americas region.
Dell resells a number of smaller storage products from other vendors as well as its own storage products.
Citing only its sales to SMEs, Dell said much of the increase was down to increased interest in external storage devices, tape drives and backup disc drives. The figure did not include sales of Dell's PowerVault larger storage products.
"Customers are continuing to buy more third-party [small] storage products [from us] than they did last year," Parra said. "Across the board we have seen a dramatic increase in the acquisition of these products."
The company's growing emphasis on data storage and backup highlights the need for SMEs to bolster their disaster planning efforts, Parra said.
"Most SMEs have under-invested in these areas," said James Browning, a research director at analyst group Gartner.
Companies of all sizes spend on average 2%-3% of their data centre budgets - what Gartner described as "capital equipment and outsourcing expenses" - on disaster prevention, according to Gartner research. That figure includes the purchase of additional storage and server devices. Companies in the finance industries spend about 7% of their data centre budget planning for disasters.
"Most [SMEs] complain they can't afford it. Big businesses also have that same complaint," said Donna Scott, vice-president and research director at Gartner. "Nobody wants to spend money on this, but they must, to ensure the viability of the enterprise."
Following disasters such as the 11 September attacks, flooding and the Californian power crisis, businesses of all sizes are beginning to re-assess how prepared they are to respond to disasters, Dell and Gartner said. The amount of money of the data centre budget spent on disaster prevention is expected to increase by about 10%-20% in 2002, Scott said.
In addition to a boost in storage hardware sales, Dell said it has seen a noticeable increase in the need for related services from SMEs. Thus, new efforts by Dell's Technology Consulting division will focus on helping companies get prepared for disasters.
"All businesses must continue taking steps to secure their data," said a Dell spokesman.