EMC jumpstarts storage line with Symmetrix family

Recent product announcements from storage vendor EMC Corp. will enable customers to keep their options open, according to one analyst, which is a good thing during these times of increasingly heterogeneous environments.

The company last month launched its new Symmetrix family, which it is calling a “complete refresh of the Symmetrix 8000 Enterprise Storage family.” The new line includes three new models: the Symmetrix 8830, the Symmetrix 8530 and the Symmetrix 8230.

The 8230 offers up to 3.5 terabytes of capacity and flexible connectivity options in what the company calls the “smallest footprint ever.” The 8530 features up to 17.4 terabytes of capacity in a 6 square-foot, single-bay cabinet. Finally, the 8830 offers up to 69.5 terabytes in a single 17.5 square-foot cabinet.

The new models also include enhancements to several components including: upgraded processor speeds (from a previous 266MHz PowerPC to 333MHz PowerPC); an increased number of processors (from a previous maximum of 32 to a new maximum of 80); and total system bandwidth. These processing enhancements enable the new Symmetrix systems to perform up to 61,760mips.

Announcements about enhancements to the Symmetrix 8000 family for mainframe environments included the Symmetrix FICON Channel Director, which the company says can support connections up to 10 kilometres without the need for distance extender products; the ESCON 4-Port Serial Channel Director which is available for all Symmetrix 8000 models; and RAID-10 configurations for OS/390. The firm also announced FICON support for its Connectrix Enterprise Director products, and an increase in the number of logical paths per ESCON port that can be supported.

“EMC has just made life substantially more difficult for their competition, and EMC has made their product more available to a wider market audience,” noted Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst with Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group.

He added that there were two things in particular about the recent announcements that he found interesting. Firstly, he said he liked the fact that the company is still adding feature and functionality from a mainframe perspective. He also said from an open-system perspective, he really likes the 8230.

“And we think that the fact that they have brought all of that enterprise-class Symmetrix functionality down to a form factor that allows them to price competitively against what traditionally has been mid-range-type architectures is a pretty interesting thing,” he continued. “Because clients can now get the best-of-breed software functionality on a hardware platform that up until this point in time, has really not been sized for that market.”

Alan Freedman, research manager, servers and workstations with IDC Canada in Toronto, agreed that the company is keeping its arms open to everyone through its technology.

“They’re not leaving their roots,” Freedman explained. “Where they first hit it big was attaching to mainframes and what they are doing is increasing their connectivity across the board. So whether it be on open systems, Unix or Windows or if it’s on a mainframe, they’re keeping the customers’ options open. It’s very positive – they seem to be expanding their technologies and expanding their horizons, but not excluding anybody, not excluding their customers.”

Joseph Tucci, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based firm’s president and CEO, noted that EMC has been focused on the same industry trend for years, and continues to do so.

“We at EMC, quite frankly, have been benefiting from this trend and driving this trend for several years now, and this trend is consolidation. And today, we are going to bring that consolidation to the next level…(the) terminology we are using is hyper-consolidation,” Tucci said.

With a tougher economic environment, IT expense budgets have been cut and every dollar that is spent is being closely examined, and re-examined, he said.

Managing vast amounts of information can be not only a difficult task, but also a costly one. Consolidation can definitely be an answer to that dilemma, he said.

Canadian customers are facing the same issues as other customers around the world, pointed out Eric Schefler, EMC Canada’s managing director.

“All customers are challenged these days to take cost out of their business,” Schefler noted. “We’ve been selling now to customers in Canada for a long time, around the benefits of EMC’s technology as it relates to lowering their total cost of ownership. And this (announcement) just helps us have more options and flexibility to be able to deliver solutions like that.”

Additional announcements from EMC included the launch of its newest version of the EMC Enginuity Operating Environment. With 64GB of global cache, Enginuity version 5568 also features a greater number of Symmetrix addressable volumes – up to 8,000 separate addresses, according to EMC. As well, the company introduced the Symmetrix Global Cache Director with CacheStorm Technology, which the company said will enhance system performance and throughput, and will reduce contention for shared cache memory. It does this in part by partitioning the global cache memory into 16 independent and concurrently accessible memory regions, according to a release issued by the company.

EMC also announced expanded Fibre Channel connectivity with its 12-Port Fibre Channel Director – code-named “Spider” – which offers up to 96 direct host connections to a single EMC Symmetrix unit, and is geared towards companies who need a large number of server connections. For customers who require a smaller number of servers, the company introduced its 4-Port Fibre Channel Director.

Pricing for the new Symmetrix models begins at US$100,000, and will vary based on configurations. For more information, go to EMC’s Web site at www.emc.com.