EMC will announce on Monday two new versions of its high-end Symmetrix array that will more than triple storage capacity, quadruple cache, and double internal and external throughput, according to sources. The array, however, isn't expected to offer major improvements of some other features, such as virtualization and combined management features.
Sources said the seventh generation of Symmetrix, or Symm7, is expected to raise the bar in the storage industry by offering up to half a petabyte of storage capacity and mirrored cache for up to 1TB of memory.
The announcement comes months ahead of the scheduled release of the new Symmetrix array. EMC officials today were being coy, touting plans for "one of its most important announcements for 2005" on Monday. But Joe Tucci, CEO of the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company, said this morning while discussing the company's latest earnings report: "I invite you to visit the Webcast EMC will be offering on Monday at 8:30 AM EDT, which my marketing team has definitely instructed me to not tell you will be for the launch of Symm7."
Sources said the DMX 3500 and 4500 are expected to sport 4Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel ports on its front end and internal throughput speeds of 160GB per second. The DMX3000 EMC now sells, by comparison, offers throughput of 64GB per second.
According to a report released today by Shebly Seyrafi, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. in New York, the DMX 3500 will hold up 1,440 disk drives for 432TB of storage capacity, and the DMX 4500 will have up to 1,920 drives for 576TB of capacity. By comparison, the DMX3000 has a maximum capacity of 172TB.
Arun Taneja, an analyst at Taneja Group Inc. in Hopkinton, Mass., wouldn't comment specifically about EMC's planned announcement other than to say the company is working to blur the lines between the midrange Clariion array and the new Symmetrix -- much as IBM joined its midrange and high-end systems under its DS series. The IBM product lines had previously been called the FAStT and Enterprise Storage Server.
"The monolithic elements are now being smashed," Teneja said. "It's not that the Clariion line is being eliminated. They're going to be stretching things up and down and bringing DMX products into what would have normally been called the modular side. IBM did that first. Now, everybody else in the industry doing that."
John Halamka, CIO at CareGroup, polled his technology team on the expected Symmetrix improvements and said they "suspect replication between these two platforms [Symm7 and Clariion] will evolve as a function of the SAN-based solutions such as Invista."
Invista is EMC's virtualization platform, which will reside on EMC's own Connetrix switches, Cisco Systems's MDS line of switches and Brocade Communications Systems Inc.'s multiprotocol switches.
Halamka said the combined management of Symm7 and Clariion hardware is a function of both the storage software management platforms and firmware-based replication.
"We never expected firmware replication between Clariion and Symm to come along at this time," he said. "We would expect improvements in storage management tools to evolve under a new applications framework, which would provide a common look and feel to manage both Clariion and Symm, and in fact other storage platforms as well."
Halamka said his team members "clearly favor the look and feel of Clariion's Navisphere management tools versus Symmetrix's Control Center. We would encourage EMC to shape their application framework to be more Navisphere-like than Control Center-like."
Lev Katz, data center operations manager at MidAmerica Bank, said he's more interested in better functionality in EMC's Control Center management software than whatever the company may announce next week.
Katz, who uses both Symmetrix and Clariion arrays in his data center, said more hard-drive space doesn't impress him because "I expect everything to be faster, bigger and cheaper as time goes on." The mirrored cache, however, does "impress me, because that's a technology breakthrough," he said.
Katz said it's disturbing to him that EMC hasn't done more to improve the granularity of the management features on the Symmetrix. "Symm, right now, is a black box," he said.
MidAmerica Bank runs EMC's Control Center management software with its Symmetrix 800, which Katz said is great for telling him what the Symmetrix can do but doesn't control the Clariion. It also doesn't allow him to troubleshoot the Symmetrix hardware.
"Let's say there's a problem and you don't know where a problem is. Simple pinging of a port lets you know half the time where that problem is," he said. "With the Clariion, I can go in and look at events. I can call up EMC and say, 'Hey, this is an event. I have a media error on Drive 2, on Slot 4 on Enclosure 02. Send me a drive. On the DMX, I have to call them and say, 'Hey, there's a blinking light.'"
Seyrafi said that while EMC has been emphasizing its midrange Clariion line and software, the high-end Symmetrix array still represents EMC's "largest revenue component" -- accounting for 40% of revenue, when software and services are included.