EMC is entering the iSCSI (Internet SCSI) SAN market in a big way this week with a range of Clariion arrays utilizing lower-cost technology. Clariion partner Dell is also adding the product to its own lineup of storage offerings.
The new iSCSI versions of the Clariion arrays, the AX100i, CX300i and the CX500i, will mirror the AX100, CX300, and CX500 FC (Fibre Channel) versions. Prices will be the same, but IT departments will save money because the iSCSI versions do not require FC fabric components such as HBAs, cabling, and switches. There will be a performance cost, however, as the iSCSI products have half the I/O performance of their FC counterparts.
The entry-level AX100i can have as many as 12 SATA drives and as much as 3TB of capacity. The workgroup or small department CX300i can have as many as 60 drives of 320GB each, either Fibre Channel or ATA. The datacenter-class CX500i can have as many as 120 drives of 320GB each. The CX700 high-end array will not come in iSCSI form.
"Customers may use iSCSI to attach servers to internal storage or DAS (direct-attached storage) instead of using Fibre Channel because of the costs of the HBA and switch ports," said Tom Joyce, vice president of storage platforms marketing at EMC.
Demand for IP-based SANs is expected to grow as small organizations and remote workgroups implement the technology. IDC predicts that in 2005, nearly 20 percent of the revenue in the sub-US$15,000 external storage array market will come from iSCSI technology. "Small organizations and workgroups that viewed SAN technology as too complex or expensive in the past can now easily deploy and enjoy the benefits of networked storage such as increased staff productivity, improved backup, utilization and manageability," said Darren Thomas, vice president and general manager at Dell Storage.
Support for iSCSI is not new at EMC, as the company already offers support for the standard on its Symmetrix DMX systems, Connectrix switches, Celerra and NetWin systems. EMC rivals Network Appliance Inc. and IBM Corp. already have similar products that support iSCSI. Last year, for instance, IBM delivered the DS300, an iSCSI-based SAN Storage controller. Network Appliance has also had several products in the iSCSI space for many years, according to Rich Clifton, vice president of SAN/iSAN business at the company. "I think we're basically saying, 'Welcome to the party.' It kind of validates the market we have been in for some time," he said.
Priced at US$6,200, the AX100i is available now, based on SATA disks. The Dell/EMC AX100i system is also available for US$4,999.