IBM is set to launch an entry-level storage product to compete with HP and EMC in the small business sector.

The System Storage DS4200 Express offers many of the features and functions of IBM's high-end DS4800, but has lower performance and capacity in order to offer a price small businesses can afford, said Harold Pike, a marketing manger for IBM.

The new product can perform FlashCopy backup (also called point-in-time copies), VolumeCopy duplication (a clone of the entire data set) and remote mirroring, a process that creates a data backup in a remote location, Pike said.

It stores data on 500MBSerial ATA drives, scaling from two to 112 drives for a range of 1TB to 56TB total storage.

IBM plans to sell the system against products like EMC's Clariion AX150 and HP's StorageWorks 1000 Modular Smart Array (MSA 1000) and MSA 1500cs.

Drawn to the fast growth of the SMB sector, technology vendors have launched an array of products for small businesses in recent months, from laptops and desktops to CRM software and VoIP telephony services.

HP said recently it would expand its SMB storage catalogue by launching a yet-unnamed product in September. The company said that the system would offer 1TB of storage for US$5,000, scaling up to a greater capacity for $10,000.

By comparison, IBM will launch the DS4200 on August 25 at $11,474, charging extra for storage. At $900 per 500M byte disk, a dual-controller 1TB system would cost about $13,500 and a 4TB system would cost about $19,000.