EMC is bolting together old storage tech

Hewlett-Packard Co.’s StorageWorks chief reacted to recent activity by storage market rival EMC Corp. on Thursday, saying that connecting old storage architecture together is “not the way to become a leader in the data centre of the future.”

Speaking to a small group Canadian reporters via conference call, HP StorageWorks GM David Scott said HP’s strategy has been to pull together an innovative portfolio of storage products that meet growing data centre challenges such as cloud computing and virtualization. The strategy, he said, is completely distinct from its storage industry competitors, including EMC.

“A lot of EMC’s latest announcements appear to be a significant repacking of architectures that have existed for a long period of time, trying to be bolted together into different solutions,” Scott said.

The repacking jab is in reference to a major EMC launch event earlier this week, which saw the company combine its Clariion storage area network (SAN) and Celerra network attached storage (NAS) products to create a new line of unified VNX storage systems. The product line includes an entry-level, sub-$10,000 VNXe system aimed at SMBs and two solutions geared toward the enterprise market.

Eric Herzog, vice-president of product management and marketing for EMC’s unified storage division, said the VNX system will allow administrators that run a combination of block-based storage and separate network attached storage to run both or either in one system.

“They don’t have to buy separate boxes from separate vendors,” he said, “and it’s got the same management interface,” called Unisphere. Last fall EMC unified its Clariion and Celerra management software under Unisphere. VNX unifies the hardware.

While the news might be significant for some EMC customers, Scott said, HP has a very different strategy to actually move the storage landscape forward. It is comprised of server, storage and networking solutions that can manage physical, virtual and other external resources together within a single portfolio.

He hyped the company’s scale-out X9000 Network Storage Systems and HP’s P4000 G2 SANs for virtual environments. Scott also pointed at HP’s acquisition of 3Par, which he said was designed from the start to meet the challenges IT departments face in the converged infrastructure environments of the future.

He added that 3Par has already begun to be integrated into its storage portfolio, with HP intending to invest $100 million of research and development funds in the platform.

Mark Peters, a storage analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., said that in the coming weeks, HP would be wise to point how savvy EMC is to finally have jumped aboard the “converged infrastructure” train — a bandwagon that HP has been on for several years.

“For HP, it’s not just EMC’s new products that are notable — since HP does pretty much everything — it’s a logical extension to see that HP will have a competitive comeback on pretty much every EMC announcement,” he said. “What’s more significant is that with the lower end of the VNX Family, EMC is targeting more of a market where HP is established, and is planning to invest heavily in growing its channel capabilities there.”

Peters added that “whether applauding or attacking” every other storage vendor is now going to be discussing unified storage.

In what could be related news, Oracle Corp. announced on Thursday that it’s planning a special Webcast on Jan. 31 to unveil “a dramatic leap in storage technology.” No further details were made available at the press time.

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