Intel has introduced two "white box" storage platforms, one of which includes EMC's software, for its partners to customise and sell to small businesses.

Using identical hardware, the Intel Entry Storage System SS4200-EHW and SS4200-E both are equipped with Intel's Celeron 400 Series processor. That's a step up from the XScale chip in the company's first low-end NAS (network-attached storage) product, the SS4000, said Seth Bobroff, director of marketing programs for Intel Storage. The Celeron chips will allow more users to carry out more complex tasks simultaneously with the stored data, he said.

The sheer amount of data that small businesses have to deal with, frequently shared among employees, is feeding demand for NAS. Storage is more affordable than ever, but depending on a hard drive in a PC isn't good enough any more, said analyst Greg Schulz of StorageIO.

"Storage is getting cheaper, but then you've got to manage it," Schulz said. "People are becoming more aware that you have to protect this data."

One thing that makes Intel's new offerings stand out is the SS4200-E, which comes with Retrospect backup software from large-enterprise storage giant EMC, according to Shulz.

The other new platform, the SS4200-EHW, is hardware only and designed so channel partners can package other software. This could be Windows Home Server, but vendors such as FalconStor and Wasabi Systems are also developing and validating software for it, Intel said.

With the option for more advanced software, these platforms could even work in mass deployments across branches of a large organisation such as a retail chain, Schulz said.

The devices can accommodate as many as four drives, so they could be configured with several terabytes of storage, Intel's Bobroff said. External SATA (Serial Advanced Technology Attachment) interfaces let users plug more storage into the devices. Intel expects the products to ship in December, priced at $500 and up.