EMC last week was out to shake up the network-attached storage (NAS) market with a fault-tolerant device aimed at customers flocking to high-flying Network Appliance for its fast, relatively inexpensive storage appliances.
The EMC ip4700, code-named Chameleon, is a 3.6-terabyte NAS box for enterprise and service provider networks that some observers say could be a Network Appliance killer. Like the 4.5-terabyte NetApp F840 appliance and two-node F840 cluster, EMC's product will likely be used for file and print services, possibly replacing NetWare or Windows NT servers.
Network Appliance, which pulls in less than one-tenth the annual revenue of EMC, accounts for nearly half of all NAS sales versus EMC's 29 per cent market share, according to preliminary figures from market research firm International Data Corp (IDC). But Enterprise Storage Group, another market watcher, estimates EMC will match Network Appliance in units shipped in 12 months, largely thanks to the ip4700 hitting the market.
"EMC has a big winner with this box," says Robert Gray, an analyst with IDC. "Where EMC is playing, they are coming in at NetApps' high end. EMC has 10 people in the field for every one that Network Appliance has - that virtually guarantees success for [EMC]."
The ip4700 performs the same as the NetApp F840, sources say. And there's every chance that EMC will undercut Network Appliance on price to gain market share. "EMC is not going to come in and lose business on price," Gray says.
The NetApp F840 moves data at about 1Gbps and can perform more than 25,000 operations per second. It starts at $120,000. The F840c, which is a two-node cluster with one-half terabyte of disk space, costs $319,000.
"The ip4700 is a killer box because it has the capability of a two-node NetApps cluster," says Steve Duplessie, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group.
"The difference is that the ip4700 is tightly integrated and costs half what the NetApp cluster does. Network Appliance should be running scared -EMC finally has a product that can do battle with them," he adds.
The ip4700 draws on Clariion NAS technology obtained through the acquisition of Data General last year and an embedded operating system obtained via EMC's recent buyout of CrosStor.
The ip4700 has dual processors and controllers that can step in for the other in the event of a failure. One processor contains the CrosStor operating system for file sharing; the other has RAID 5 capability and handles traditional block data processing. The ip4700 has redundant power supplies and fans.