Cisco makes SMB storage push

With two new NAS devices, Cisco chases small businesses looking to store and protect files on PCs and servers.

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Cisco Systems Inc. today launched two networked file storage devices designed for small businesses.

The NSS2000 and NSS3000 are smaller versions of the NSS4000 and NSS6000 that was part of the Linksys product line acquired by Cisco. The new NAS boxes are targeted for backing up files on PCs and servers and storing digital files such as video from IP surveillance cameras.

The devices encrypt files and are available with Cisco Small Business Continuous Data Protection, which is an OEM version of IBM Corp.'s CDP for Files data protection software.

"Customers are looking for more than just storage boxes, and often want data protection too," said David Tucker, VP of Cisco's small business unit.

The two-bay NSS2000 holds up to 2 TB and has a list price of $595. The four-bay NSS3000 scales to 4 TB with a list price of $1,132.

Tucker said the NAS devices will compete primarily with products from Netgear and Buffalo Technology, and may overlap with the smallest of Overland Storage's SnapServer products. Cisco also risks competing with its traditional networking and storage partners such as Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and NetApp. Those vendors have increasingly targeted the SMB market in recent years, although they haven't reached the $600 price range yet.

Yankee Group vice president of small business research Steve Hilton said his analyst firm tested the NSS6100 when it was released and it received good grades for reliability, ease of setup and ease of management. He said there is clearly a market for any SMB storage products that have those capabilities as well as performance.

"Storage and disaster recovery are top IT issues for SMBs, but SMBs generally do nothing about it," he said. "So there's plenty of room for Cisco to both grow the entire market and capture share."

Hilton said he expects Cisco to be serious about the SMB market because it only targets markets where there is a clear opportunity to be a leader. The Cisco NSS2000 and NSS3000 are part of a Cisco SMB rollout that also includes a spam and virus blocker and a communications system consisting of a wireless IP phone and secure router. Last November, Cisco laid out plans for a $100 million global investment in products and services for companies with fewer than 100 employees.

"As [Cisco CEO] John Chambers says, Cisco only goes into markets where it can win significant share and beat the competition playing the 'Cisco' game, not necessarily the game designed by the competition announcement," Hilton said.

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