EMC launches new network storage device for midrange market

Storage industry leader EMC Corp. announced Monday the release of its newest generation, fibre channel-based network storage system, along with upgraded software and support services that it says will further blur the line between storage-area networks (SAN) and network-attached storage (NAS).

The CLARiiON FC4700 is EMC's fifth incarnation of its SAN appliance and supports up to 7.3TB in a single RAID box that includes new multi-CPU storage processors, 2GB of high-speed cache memory, four front-end and four back-end fibre-channel connections and redundant pathing from each storage processor.

Last month, EMC made its first foray into the midrange networked storage market with the Clariion IP4700, code-named Chameleon (see story). Priced at $82,000, the network-attached storage system holds approximately 3.5TB of data on RAID devices. Industry analysts said the device was a direct challenge to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Network Appliance Inc., which has had a firm grip on the midrange NAS market.

More and more, enterprise-class businesses are struggling with the decision of whether to install SANs, which interconnect users to different kinds of data-storage devices via a server using fibre-channel host bus adapters, or less-sophisticated NAS, which is disk storage that connects directly to a network via a LAN interface.

Scott Saunders, director of systems technology at Paxson Communications Corp. in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the owner and operator of the nation's largest broadcast television station group and PAX TV, said he purchased two FC4700 systems because he'd grown dissatisfied with his older Dell SAN system.

"Dell was not sending out consultants or engineering professionals," he said. "Everyone can sell hardware, but the research, implementation and design EMC offers is what we find to be the real value."

The FC4700 uses the same box as the IP4700, allowing users to upgrade their systems to a SAN by changing software and a single interface card. Its price tag is $72,000.

According to EMC chief technology officer Jim Rothnie, the FC4700 is a direct response to the needs of EMC's customers.

"We have about 30,000 to 40,000 fibre channel-capable systems out there, that can be upgraded [to the FC4700] with software," Rothnie said, referring to EMC's older FC4500 appliance.

The network storage system also has backup and disaster-recovery capability through EMC's new SnapView and MirrorView software, which was previously offered only in EMC's higher-end Symmetrix storage system. EMC's Navisphere storage management software can also be used with the CLARiiON devices, Rothnie said.

Industry analyst Steve Duplessie at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said EMC's newest offering will challenge Compaq in the midrange market, but will be up against stiff competition by Dell's newest SAN, the PowerVault 660F array (see story).

"Dell is going to be 90% of all bells and whistles at 10 cents on the dollar," said Duplessie, referring to Dell's newest midrange storage network, with a starting price of $45,000. "If all you need is cheap, good storage, and all you need it for is NT, Dell will be tough to walk away from."

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