Symmetrix servers positioned as storage for the masses

In an olive branch gesture to middle-market storage customers, EMC Corp. on Monday rolled out three new Symmetrix storage servers priced within reach of mid-tier customers.

The three new EMC family members are the Symmetrix 8230, 8530, and 8830. The new systems boast expanded 181GB drives, developed along with Seagate, and storage capacities expandable to 69.5TB, according to Chuck Hollis, the vice-president of markets and products for EMC, based in Hopkinton, Mass.

The Symmetrix line is EMC’s marquee storage offering, and officials for the storage giant have long defended the high price tag of Symmetrix systems as a premium customers were willing to pay for EMC’s highest quality product.

With the new systems, EMC is bringing Symmetrix storage technology within reach of mid-tier customers, with base configurations of the 8230 starting at US$100,000, EMC officials said. Until now, EMC’s Clariion storage systems have been the choice of mid-tier customers.

“Symmetrix has always been perceived as being the Cadillac of the storage business and therefore affordable by an elite series of users,” said Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst with the Enterprise Storage Group in Milford, Mass. “The most important part of this news is (EMC has) moved the Symmetrix family into an almost mid-range category, just above Clariion.”

EMC will use the new Symmetrix systems with their lower price points to attack storage customers otherwise drawn to mid-range storage systems from Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., and Dell Computer Corp., said Prigmore.

“The only time (EMC) loses a deal is on price,” said Prigmore. “(EMC doesn’t) lose on services, and they don’t lose on software, so now they are addressing price.”

Along with the new Symmetrix storage servers, EMC announced expanded Fibre Channel connectivity for the new systems. Four and twelve port Fibre Channel directors are now available from EMC, said Hollis.

EMC also introduced Global Cache directors with technology Hollis called “CacheStorm.” The new caching technology is designed to reduce operational latency found in many current caching architectures.

“These are intelligent cache processors that create up to four concurrent channels each, connecting more data to more servers with no bottle neck,” explained Hollis. “Up to four of them can be configured in a full-scale Symmetrix system, creating 16 concurrent paths that allow predictable performance, full scalability, decreased management effort and improved service levels.”

EMC is the number one storage vendor in the world by revenue according to research by Gartner-DataQuest, an industry analyst firm based in Stamford, Conn.