EMC officially unwraps Symmetrix 7 array

The DMX-3 will eventually support 1 petabyte of storage

EMC Corp., as expected, today took the wraps off the latest version of its high-end Symmetrix storage array, the DMX-3, which it said will be able to scale up to 1 petabyte of internal storage by the end of next year using slower, lower-cost Fibre Channel disks.

When the array becomes generally available in September, it will initially support up to 960 standard Fibre Channel drives with 300GB of capacity each. EMC said it will begin offering 400GB and 500GB drives in the DMX-3 during the first quarter of 2006. Those drives, however, will spin at 7,200 rpm, compared to the 10,000-rpm and 15,000-rpm drives used in Symmetrix models today. Also in the first quarter of 2006, EMC said it will be able to support up to 1,920 of the lower-cost Fibre Channel drives, yielding about 1 petabyte of capacity.

In recent months, vendors such as Hitachi Data Systems Inc. have announced support for both Fibre Channel and lower-cost serial Advanced Technology Attached (SATA) disk drives. EMC said the new, low-cost Fibre Channel drives will match SATA drives in price -- about half as much as high-end Fibre Channel -- but will have dual ports for resiliency and advanced firmware functionality such as I/O monitoring.

EMC did not increase the memory cache on the new array, as some analysts expected. But it did add mirrored cache to the array for resiliency. Both IBM and Hitachi already offer mirrored cache in their high-end arrays.

Barry Burke, senior director of Symmetrix platforms marketing at EMC, said the company plans to eventually expand the memory cache in the DMX-3, but he would not specify a time frame. Burke also said EMC is working on a new version of Enterprise Control Center (ECC) that will more tightly integrate management features on both the high-end Symmetrix and the midrange Clariion array.

The updated ECC is expected out later by sometime next year.

"It's a big honkin' box," said Dianne McAdam, an analyst with Data Mobility Group in Nashua, N.H. "The weight of this thing is 11,000 pounds if you get the fully configured model, and it takes up 126 square feet."

The Symmetrix DMX-3 will support FICON-attached IBM mainframes and Internet SCSI or Fibre Channel-based open systems hosts running AIX, HP/UX, Linux, Solaris and Windows.

EMC today also announced a partnership with Softek Storage Solutions Corp. to use its data migration software. Softek's Logical Data Migration Facility (LDMF) software allows users to move data between IBM mainframes and Symmetrix arrays as well as between Symmetrix and other vendors' storage arrays.

McAdam said she is impressed with those data migration capabilities because they will greatly reduce the labor required to upgrade systems by moving data between older and newer models. The LDMF software also performs migration without requiring that business applications be shutdown.

Tony Asaro, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group in Milford, Mass., said EMC's announcement offers exactly what enterprises are looking for: a way to consolidate multiple older arrays onto a single new box.

"From a pragmatic point of view, I'm taking six or 12 of the last generation storage systems and consolidating them onto one or two the next generation technology. That can save you millions of dollars," he said. "The bottom line is EMC is not stupid. These guys are the kings. They're on top. They've got a sound business that everyone is trying to take away."

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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