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Cisco is introducing the NSS 300 Series Smart Storage NAS solution, priced for the small business market, broadening the networking giant’s product line in the storage space.

But there is no cause for concern at EMC as Cisco takes the next step in building out its SMB storage lineup, says David Tucker, vice president, Cisco small business technology group.

“The EMC relationship is a very strong one and  you will continue to see that grow,” he says.

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He tells Channel Insider that partners have been telling Cisco that the under-$5,000 network attached storage market “was a void and a growth area for us.” Ranging from $913 to $5,625, the Cisco NSS 300 Series Smart Storage is billed as an affordable, easy-to-use desktop network storage solution with integrated business applications designed specifically for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Tucker says the company’s initial foray into the SMB storage market, the NSS 2000, which came with the Linksys acquisition two years ago, educated it about the marketplace and set the understanding of what the follow-on product had to.

“It was an excellent product that met the needs for just storage and the feedback from a lot of our partners was that they were looking for a lot more backup and recovery… looking for ways of doing more than just one thing,” he tells Channel Insider.

One of the lessons was that you can’t take an enterprise or even a mid-market product and bring it down market to the below-100-employee market, he says.

“Cisco has not really offered a top-to-bottom storage product from enterprise on down but we believe this really helps round out our portfolio. The new line leverages the NSS 2000 and takes Cisco to the next level,” he adds. “We call this smart storage, a platform that can go beyond storage. Partners really like that this can do more than just storage.”

The NSS 300 Series consists of 2, 4 and 6-bay desktop NAS solutions and up to 12TB of capacity with 2TB drives. Built-in applications include a user-configurable Web server with an integrated WordPress publishing platform, and built-in servers that help simplify user authentication and management of the network. The solution can be set up in minutes and is easy to configure and manage with a straightforward browser-based interface.

There is secure remote Web access an on-disk data encryption protects critical data even if hard drives are stolen. It supports file sharing across all popular operating systems or can be configured as an iSCSI target for virtualized and clustered environments.

Cisco’s Andrew Sage, vice president, Worldwide Small Business Sales, says the company wants its partners “to hit the ground running”, by delivering “the full suite of tools, training, support and profitability programs they need to grow their business.”  

Cisco will also be looking to expand its SMB channel, adds Tucker. “We recognize that our small business partner base is very diverse and recognize the need to tie a lot more of our products together. The NSS 300 is more than just a box, it’s really more a solution story. He says beyond secure storage, backup and recovery applications, there will be new applications like digital signage and video surveillance.

“Even small businesses are totally unprepared for how businesses are changing. This really gives our channel more than just a hardware box. It gives them a service, a solution.”

Also available with the NSS 300 is the Cisco Small Business Pro Service ($149  for most   configurations), three years of  technical support, including: software updates, online chat support 24 hours a day, next business-day hardware replacement as necessary, call support during local business hours and extended access to the Cisco Small Business Support Center.