Fertile markets are few and far between in today’s IT landscape. But with their partnership, EMC Corp. and Dell Corp. are targeting two of the greenest pastures in the sector with a storage area network (SAN) product.

These lucrative areas include the most bountiful portion of the storage market — networked storage, comprised of both SAN and network-attached storage (NAS) — and the small- to medium-sized business (SMB) market. The biggest opportunity for networked storage is with SMBs, said Alan Freedman, research manager, infrastructure hardware, at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

“Large business has been quicker to adopt the technology, which is usually the case, but the small- and medium-sized business was waiting for more price-sensitive products to come out,” he said. “As well, they are waiting for products that don’t need a full IT department to support them, because in most small businesses you’re not going to have exhaustive resources to monitor your networks.”

While EMC has done well in the big business customer segment, it wouldn’t be able to target the SMB market effectively without Dell’s contacts. Conversely, the partnership benefits Dell because EMC gives the PC-maker credibility in the storage market, Freedman said.

EMC’s Clariion AX100, which will be marketed by Dell as the Dell/EMC AX100, is available in either a direct-attached storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS) or SAN-ready configuration for just under US$5,000. A complete SAN configuration will also be available for just under US$10,000.

The product will also be marketed through a partnership with Fujitsu-Siemens, which will sell it under the FibreCat AX100. Mississauga, Ont.-based Skydata Corp. will also offer the AX100.

According to EMC, each AX100 has up to 12 serial advanced technology attachment (SATA) drives and provides storage capacities varying from 480GB to 3TB. It has bundled management software for provisioning, automated failover and snapshot capabilities. A Brocade Silkworm 8 port 3250 switch is also shipped with it. Right now the offering is available for Fibre Channel but iSCSI compatibility is upcoming, EMC said.

Additionally, the SAN includes wizards so it can be configured in four steps, EMC said. It also comprises redundant features such as a dual controllers and a mirrored cache. It runs on Novell Inc.’s Netware, Microsoft Corp.’s Windows and Linux. Unix compatibility will follow, the company added.

“For the last six or seven years, we have been following the the belief that storage should be networked,” said Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC Corp.

SANs do not allow for storage silos to exist, therefore information can be shared across all servers. This results in better utilizations of storage because the data in storage silos doesn’t usually take up the amount of available storage, leading to unused capacity, he added.

Relative to traditional offerings, the Clariion AX100 is designed to be user- and partner-friendly and offers more functionality at a lower price point than has historically been offered in this class of product, explained Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis with EMC.

“It is not only less expensive, but EMC is offering standard included software at a superior price point,” Steinhardt told Relative to traditional offerings, the Clariion AX100 is designed to be user- and partner-friendly and offers more functionality at a lower price point than has historically been offered in this class of product, explained Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis with EMC.

“It is not only less expensive, but EMC is offering standard included software at a superior price point,” Steinhardt told Relative to traditional offerings, the Clariion AX100 is designed to be user- and partner-friendly and offers more functionality at a lower price point than has historically been offered in this class of product, explained Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis with EMC.

“It is not only less expensive, but EMC is offering standard included software at a superior price point,” Steinhardt told Relative to traditional offerings, the Clariion AX100 is designed to be user- and partner-friendly and offers more functionality at a lower price point than has historically been offered in this class of product, explained Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis with EMC.

“It is not only less expensive, but EMC is offering standard included software at a superior price point,” Steinhardt told Relative to traditional offerings, the Clariion AX100 is designed to be user- and partner-friendly and offers more functionality at a lower price point than has historically been offered in this class of product, explained Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis with EMC.

“It is not only less expensive, but EMC is offering standard included software at a superior price point,” Steinhardt told IT World Canada. “We have taken a ‘clean slate’ perspective and have optimized this product for the SMB market.”IT World Canada. “We have taken a ‘clean slate’ perspective and have optimized this product for the SMB market.”IT World Canada. “We have taken a ‘clean slate’ perspective and have optimized this product for the SMB market.”IT World Canada. “We have taken a ‘clean slate’ perspective and have optimized this product for the SMB market.”IT World Canada. “We have taken a ‘clean slate’ perspective and have optimized this product for the SMB market.”

Hewlett-Packard Co. and IBM Corp. hold the number one and two spots in the Canadian storage market respectively, Freedman said. HP has the MSA SAN Switch series, a legacy line from Compaq, which was the first entry-level SAN offering on the market, he added, making it the one to compare against and compete with.

“IBM is really starting to focus on migrating their capabilities downward with their fast [eServer BladeCenter] T System they’re getting into more low-end installations,” he added.

Since the Canadian economy is riddled with SMB environments, Steinhardt said he is confident the new offering will enable EMC to increase its presence across the nation and deliver enterprise-like performance at a fraction of the cost.

EMC is an active participant in the Storage Network Industry Association’s (SNIA) Storage Management Initiative (SMI-S), an open standard for storage systems and software. What that essentially means is SMI-S-compliant products can be interchanged depending on users’ needs.

“The thing is, we had better be best in class for hardware platforms and for software otherwise we can just be easily ‘swapped out,'” Steinhardt said. “The best products will automatically rise to the top. We like that challenge.”

With files from Carly Suppa, IT World Canada



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