EMC adds IP to Symmetrix

EMC Corp. Friday announced enhancements to its high-end Symmetrix 8000 series arrays, including native gigabit Ethernet connectivity for remote replication, mainframe support and the addition of 146GB drives that give customers more usable disk space compared with the previous model.

Using EMC’s Symmetrix Remote Data Facility software, the Symmetrix 8000 series arrays can now replicate data asynchronously over long distances using IP networks. That function previously required a channel extender.

EMC also introduced the Symmetrix z8000, a preconfigured array that offers Fibre Connectivity (FICON), a high-speed I/O interface for mainframe computer connections and Enterprise Systems Connection (ESCON), an interface for IBM S/390 computers.

Barry Burke, director of integrated solutions for networked storage platforms at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, said ESCON and FICON support have been available separately for 10 months on the 8000 series, but they will be more easily incorporated in the new pre-packaged systems.

“Today’s announcement underscores EMC’s commitment to the mainframe market by offering the broadest range of solutions, from the Symmetrix z8000 series to the highest-end Symmetrix DMX systems,” David Donatelli, EMC’s executive vice-president of storage platforms operations said in a statement.

The Symmetrix z8000 series includes two models: the Symmetrix z8530, which is available in 2.0TB and 3.5TB configurations; and the Symmetrix z8830, which is available in 5TB and 10TB configurations. A Symmetrix z8830 system can scale to more than 27.2TB of fully protected storage capacity, up to 16 FICON or 32 ESCON connectivity ports and up to 64GB of cache.

All Symmetrix z8000 systems are available immediately. List prices begin at US$258,000 and vary based on configuration.

Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Data Mobility Group, in Nashua, N.H., was unimpressed with the FICON and ESCON support because it forces mainframe customers to upgrade with older generation technology instead of EMC’s latest high-end array line. Last month, EMC debuted its newest line, the DMX 800, 1000 and 2000 arrays series, which all lack FICON mainframe support.

“The problem as I see it [is] if I’m a mainframe customer with existing [Symmetrix] 8000 running FICON and I need another subsystem, I can’t buy a DMX today because it won’t support FICON. Their mainframe customers have to buy a previous model product,” McAdam said.

Burke said EMC is not trying to “push customers backwards,” but is simply awaiting IBM’s 2Gbps FICON technology to come out before adding it to the DMX line instead of going ahead with today’s 1Gbps technology.

“The bulk of our customers are still on ESCON. The move to FICON is happening at a more gradual pace,” Burke said.