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HP targets small and midsize businesses

Continuing its effort to reach smaller businesses, Hewlett-Packard plans to announce on Monday a slew of new offerings including PCs, data storage gear, printers, support services and finance products.

Continuing its effort to reach smaller businesses, Hewlett-Packard plans to announce on Monday a slew of new offerings.

The launch includes PCs, data storage gear, printers, support services and finance offerings. HP said the bevy of products and services is part of its $750 million investment focused on the growing small and midsize business market. The offerings are designed to allow such companies to get greater access to expertise and improved reliability from their tech investments.

"SMB (small and midsize business) customers around the world tell us that productivity, reliability and affordability are the three issues that matter most to them when it comes to their IT," HP CEO Carly Fiorina said in a statement.

The small and midsize business market, defined as companies with fewer than 1,000 employees, is ramping up its spending on technology more quickly than Fortune 1,000 companies are, said Tom Kucharvy, analyst at Summit Strategies. "It's the fastest-growing segment of the market," Kucharvy said. "It's held up best during the recession."

HP is one of a number of technology companies going after more modest accounts. Rivals IBM, Dell and Gateway have made efforts to tap the so-called SMB market, as have Oracle and Microsoft.

HP has historical strength in the SMB market, particularly from the Compaq unit, Kucharvy said.

Among the new products HP is releasing is the HP Compaq Business Notebook nx5000, a laptop computer with Intel Centrino mobile technology and a battery life of up to 9 hours. Also new is a desktop machine, the HP Compaq Business Desktop dx2000 microtower.

The company is introducing an "affordable entry-level server" dubbed the HP ProLiant ML110, and network switches. On the storage front, HP said its family of Modular Smart Array units will soon support low-cost Serial ATA disk drives. It also said new low-cost switches for so-called storage area networks should be available in April. Storage area networks (SANs) link computers with dedicated storage devices for greater efficiency and easier management. The new switches are based on products from Brocade Communications Systems, and U.S. pricing is expected to start at $5,000, according to HP.

Also new is a tape autoloader for data backup and recovery. Autoloaders are tape storage devices that automatically load tape cartridges with a robotic mechanism. HP's new autoloader is designed to allow businesses to recover lost data at the touch of a button.

New services from HP include Proactive Plus for SMBs, which aims to provide "comprehensive proactive and reactive software support services for Microsoft environments on HP industry-standard servers." Another new service is designed to reduce overall server management costs by providing such things as server administration, remote monitoring and system maintenance.