EMC expands, upgrades storage offerings

The announcement yesterday morning by EMC of storage products for midrange and high-level use will add to the storage choices available for users.

EMC referred to its E-Infostructure initiative as the most important announcement in the company's history.

More significant than any technical advances the new products represent is the influence of the Internet in driving the need for data storage, said CEO Mike Ruettgers.

EMC just finished building an 85 terabyte (TB) data warehouse for British Airways PLC, Ruettgers said. "In 1995, 85TB was the total of all the storage on mainframes at 9,000 sites all over the world," he noted.

Storage needs are rising by 90% to 100% per year, said Polly Pearson, EMC's investor relations manager.

"These are forklift upgrades," said storage analyst John Webster at Illuminata in Nashua, New Hampshire. But he called the initiative mostly "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."

Aimed at the global storage area network (SAN) market, EMC's new Symmetrix 8000 doubles the capacity of previous SAN devices from EMC to 19TB.

The 8000 runs up to four times faster on all PowerPC processors as measured by its own benchmarks, EMC claimed. The Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based storage vendor had been migrating to the PowerPC from Motorola's 68000 chips.

The Symmetrix operating environment, MicroCode, has been updated and renamed Enginuity. It has also been engineered to facilitate the development of third-party applications, EMC said.

Enginuity contains what Webster called "a few midlife kickers." The new TimeFinder 4.1 software simultaneously supports up to eight production versions online and is backward-compatible with Symmetrix 5.

The Symmetrix Remote Data Facility remote backup and restore tool operates over Fibre Channel within one campus and over IP remotely and is backward-compatible with Symmetrix 5.

The Clariion midrange line from Data General, which EMC bought last year, has been integrated into the EMC line in the form of the new Clariion FC4500. The 4500 connects to the SAN via EMC's Connectrix Fibre Channel switch.

According to one storage consultant, EMC has been doing some aggressive marketing among existing Clariion users, extending warranties on the DG machines and offering trade-ins. The consultant said he always recommends that clients diversify and use products from a couple of vendors, partly to encourage EMC to negotiate on price.

"We like cash," Ruettgers acknowledged.

The consultant suggested that EMC is starting to lose, by attrition, some of that DG installed base to Xiotech and MTI Technology, whose products aren't as pricey as the EMC storage arrays.

MTI's entry-level Fibre Channel-based Vivant system supports 1.2TB of data and includes its DataShield volume-mapping software. The top end supports up to 3TB. Its prices range from $173,000 to $1.5 million.

With some of the EMC boxes, "software alone can be $100,000," the storage consultant said.

"Storage is cheap," Ruettgers said in response to questions about pricing. Making the argument that you get what you pay for, he pointed to the efficiencies gained by well-integrated hardware and software, reduced personnel costs and revenues uninterrupted by lack of availability. EMC's E-Infostructure initiative will drive down costs of maintaining storage by as much as 30% per year, he claimed.

EMC also announced several enhancements to the Celerra network-attached file server that allow the connection of a network-attached storage device to a SAN. It now has Fibre Channel connectivity, support for Veritas NetBackup for local backup and restore and added disaster recovery features.

Additionally, EMC announced a new line of Connectrix eight- and 16-port departmental Fibre Channel switches and enhancements to its 32-port Connectrix enterprise director, including support for up to 104 any-to-any storage connections.

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