EMC to blend product lines

Having spent much of the past year bolstering its software portfolio, EMC will return to its bread and butter next week with a series of storage hardware announcements aimed at giving customers greater flexibility, capacity and performance.

On Monday, the company is expected to announce:

  • A set of Symmetrix storage arrays called the DMX2, which have twice as many drives and processors as previous DMXs and promise higher performance.

  • A series of midrange Clariion arrays - the CX300, CX500 and CX700 - that EMC says are faster but not more expensive than previous versions.

  • New replication, back-up and recovery and snapshot capabilities for the Clariions.

  • One of the first implementations of the Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S), a standard for managing heterogeneous storage.

With these announcements, EMC is aligning the release of its Symmetrix products with its Clariion arrays, furthering the ultimate convergence of the product lines.

"It makes perfect sense that they are trying to wed everything together, because as they move forward the lines are going to continue to blur between what's Clariion and what's Symmetrix," said Bob Moore, vice president of IT for telecom provider Paetec Communications in Fairport, N.Y. Moore's company uses Symmetrix, Clariion and Centera gear.

EMC uses many of the same disk drives and components in its Symmetrix and Clariion arrays to keep costs down - a process EMC calls commonality.

"We've worked very hard in going to commonality," said Dave Donatelli, EMC's executive vice president of storage platforms operations. "We ship products that all have the same disk drives. We are able to use a fundamental building block and leverage that across all of our products,"

EMC's NS600 network-attached storage (NAS) product is one example of commonality. It uses the same hardware as the Clariion CX600, with unique software added that lets it join a Symmetrix array to the Ethernet network, he said.

Users say commonality is an advantage when it comes to buying storage gear.

"For instance, if you buy the higher-end Clariion unit, it's upgradeable to the lower-end Symmetrix," Moore said. "If you are a corporate user, it gets awfully costly to always have those high-end features on tap, so if you are rolling out a small deployment, you can technology-protect your investment by upgrading [from one to the other]."

Other vendors have been slow to adopt similar concepts. HP and IBM don't use the same drives in their high-end and mid-range storage arrays.

The new CX300 supports a broader family of non-Windows servers such as Unix, and it has SnapView capability - something the CX400, CX500, CX600 and CX700 already have. SnapView gives users accelerated backup and recovery through economical, disk-based instant restorations.

EMC also is expected to unveil an asynchronous version of its data-mirroring and disaster-recovery package MirrorView, which is expected to be available in May.

"An asynchronous version is essential if you want to geographically distribute your disk arrays for business continuity purposes," said Kent Smith, president of Ipso, a business systems integrator in Wayland, Mass. "Without it, disk-write speed is significantly degraded, as disk writes must be confirmed across the WAN."

EMC also will launch new application-specific bundles for its Clariion Navisphere Management Suite with customized configurations for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, and cluster-enablement and automated replication.

Further, the Clariions now will be SMI-S enabled, letting them be managed by any Common Information Model-capable storage management package.

"SMI-S increases interoperability and inter-manageability across systems," Smith said. "It will likely be a checklist item for us in the next six to 12 months."

By mid-year, EMC is expected to announce a new family of NAS gateway products - the NS700G and the NS700 - and a new version of its DART NAS operating system, sources said.

The company also is expected to announce performance and reliability enhancements for its Centera storage subsystem for fixed content and for the first time an API that lets Centera be connected to mainframe servers. Two new low-end Clariion arrays - the CX100 and CX150 - also are expected.

This story, "EMC to blend product lines" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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