Dell is continuing its philosophy of simplifying storage devices for the SMB sector, after it launched the Dell PowerVault DL2000 last week, an all-in-one system that couples a server, a storage system, as well as backup and recovery software, as a single device.

The PC manufacturer is making some dramatic claims about the performance of DL2000, saying that by combining both storage and the backup and recovery system in a single box, it can slash backup times by up to 52 percent and restore times by up to 77 percent compared to tape.

Dell confirmed these figures were its own internal estimations, provided by its engineers, based on what they thought would constitute an average backup environment.

Essentially, the DL2000 is a Windows-based x86 server. Users have the choice of using software from either CommVault (CommVault Simpana) or Symantec (Symantec Backup Exec), that will be factory installed (and verified) on the machine. It also features other tools to help with the setup of the device, which Dell claims can be achieved in less than half an hour.

Coupled with this server is a Dell PowerVault MD1000 disk array that can offer up to 144TB of disk space. Customers can add (as an option) a PowerVault TL2000, TL4000 or ML6000 Tape Library for long-term archiving.

The system is assembled by Dell, and shipped as a turnkey solution. It is principally aimed at the small to medium-sized companies, and branch offices, where there is often limited IT or storage skills.

"The value of this device is that there is unique code on this box that you cannot get anywhere else," said Brett Roscoe, senior manager, at Dell Enterprise Storage. "This code is designed to simplify the storage and backup."

"The analogy I use is that it is like a car," he told Techworld. "You don't go and buy the transmission, the chassis, the engine separately, and then assemble all of it yourself. No, you simply go to the car dealer, and are given a key, and then you are off and running."

Roscoe believes that the simplicity when using the system will be a key attraction for the SMB market.

"The user simply boots up the system, but doesn't have to interface with the operating system," he said. Indeed, Techworld understands that IT staff will not have to set up LUNs (Logical Unit Numbers) or do RAID configurations.

"The system asks a few simple storage questions, and then the Symantec or CommVault software configures the device, which usually takes 20 to 30 minutes," said Roscoe. "Symantec takes 18 minutes, CommVault slightly longer at 28 minutes because it also does archiving. But it really is a quick setup."

He pointed out that it is possible to add disks to the array later, on the fly. "When a user is running out of capacity, all they need to do is physically add more drives," he said. "The software automatically configures them, so that multiple disk arrays, appear as one storage pool for the customer."

The system will come with 3TB of disk capacity to start with.

There are different versions of the system available, with different features, depending on whether users opt for the CommVault or Symantec based system. For example, a CommVault-based DL2000 can be configured with or without data de-duplication, which makes more efficient use of storage capacity, by taking advantage of duplication in the incoming data. There are four editions of the Symantec software, which can provide continuous data protection for Exchange, SQL and file servers, and protection for VMware and Microsoft virtual machines.

"Both versions provide replication, so that it can replicate between two sites, which provides a nice solution for DR (disaster recovery)," said Roscoe. "We are really very excited about this product, the first of our tier disk family."

UK pricing is still to be finalised for when the device starts shipping later this month, although US pricing is expected to start at between $10,000 (£5,854) and $15,000 (£8,781).

"All I can say at the moment is that for customers looking to buy these components separately, it will cost them more," he said. "This is a value driven price model."

Stephen Lawson of the IDG news service contributed to this report.