EMC has released a budget version of its network-attached storage products to tempt small and medium-sized businesses away from direct-attached systems.

The NetWin110 is based on Microsoft's Storage Server 2003 and starts at $6,100 (£3,420). It is pitched as "a cost-effective solution for customers looking to implement NAS for the first time or expand the capabilities of a storage area network by enabling it to perform NAS functions as well."

The gateway is EMC’s fourth product aimed at the SMB market, which is estimated to be 35 to 40 percent of overall demand. As such, Bart Kaplan, systems and storage analyst for Precursor, said the company can ill afford to ignore it. However, he said: "Getting real traction there requires a lot of upfront investment in terms of setting up the necessary channel relationships and support infrastructure."

Another analyst - Tony Asaro of Enterprise Storage Group - said this new product could allow enterprises to install hundreds or thousands of gateway NAS devices to mirror data back to a central data centre over Ethernet and centrally manage operations.

While the NetWin 110 is small, it has many of the functions normally found in higher-end products, such as storage monitoring and alerting capabilities and automatic storage provisioning. It also includes Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and Virtual Disk Service.

VSS lets IT administrators take point-in-time copies of storage volumes for backup purposes. Based on an Intel 1U single-processor server, the NetWin 110 also supports Microsoft Common Information File System (CIFS), Unix/Linux Network File System (NFS), NetWare and AppleTalk.

It has integrated management that allows storage provisioning, monitoring and alerting, and works with Microsoft Management Console, EMC’s ControlCenter and VisualSRM management products. It attaches to EMC’s Clariion CX disk storage. The CX300, CX500 and CX700 midrange disk arrays serve as the back ends. The CX300 costs $31,875; the CX500, $66,875; and CX700, $121,875. All three have 584GB of usable storage.

In 2002, EMC acquired Prisa Networks for its storage-area network management product; in 2003, it snapped up Astrum Software for its storage resource management software; and next month the company plans to announce the Clariion AX100, an inexpensive Serial ATA storage array.

The NetWin110 meanwhile will only be sold through distributors Avnet Hall-Mark, Tech Data and Arrow Electronics.

Tom Joyce, senior director of NAS product marketing, said the NetWin 110’s biggest play will be in the high-volume market of consolidating direct-attached storage systems in the remote office, eliminating the need to change out backup tapes on-site. "The NetWin 110 is actually customer-installable," he said. "That brings us into an entirely new territory."