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EMC refreshes storage line

EMC upgrades Symmetrix, Clarion lines

EMC refreshed its storage line today announcing a series of product improvements that the company said is proof it is not moving away from its heritage.

EMC's product and marketing director for Australia, Clive Gold, used the global announcement, which included new product features to improve performance and energy efficiency, to reinforce the company's roots.

"Customers have a perception that we are moving away from our heritage, today's announcement proves we are not; we will continue to lead storage infrastructure," Gold said.

He said there are perceptions that EMC is moving away from storage as result of the company's buying spree which began with VMWare in 2004 and its most recent acquisition of RSA Security for $US2.1 billion.

Gold said storage used to account for 80 percent of the company's revenue.

"Today it accounts for 40 percent but revenue is higher," he said.

As part of the announcement, EMC's high-end Symmetrix line is being improved with a new model, the DMX-3 950, which comes in 300G-byte and 500G-byte capacity versions. They are physically smaller than previous Symmetrix models, which means they will take up less space in a data centre.

EMC also claims that the new Symmetrix models are more power-efficient than previous EMC models and those from rivals such as Hitachi Data Systems and IBM.

EMC is also upgrading its Clariion line so those products can run in either Fibre Channel or iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) environments.

Fibre Channel and iSCSI are two different protocols for the connection between a storage device and a server. Fibre Channel has been around for a while, but iSCSI is a newer protocol.

Customers who were buying the iSCSI models were also buying Fibre Channel models, now they can be integrated in the same array.

The Clariion upgrade, called the CX3 UltraScale series, also features a simplified process for configuring storage devices on a network.

EMC claims it has reduced by 70 percent the number of steps required to complete certain tasks and that the Clariion uses a "wizard", much like the screen-by-screen process many consumers use to install software on their computers.

Gold said there is a a lot of interest in Australia in the CX3; the company shipped 70 locally last quarter and this is expected to increase substantially in the next quarter.

Storage is no longer just about price and performance; Gold said energy effiency is a big issue.

"This is huge, despite the fact that Australia has one of the lowest energy costs in the world," he said.

"As products get smaller and faster they chew more electricity."

Gold has met customers recently that have put projects on hold because their data centres don't have enough power.

"There is equipment sitting on the floor unpowered," he said.

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In 2001, Gold said the standard server used 100 watts of power. Today that figure has increased to 400.

"That's four times more power. Also there were only five servers per rack compared to 14 today," he added.

Brian Jarrett, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said while some of the EMC announcements are just "incremental" improvements in existing models, he took note of a new Disk Library tied to the Clariion CX3 UltraScale model.

The Disk Library backs up onto disk as many as 340P bytes of data. One petabyte is 10,000G bytes.

Jarrett said as enterprises collect more data, traditional tape backup, which occurs overnight when most offices are closed, may still be going on when workers return in the morning. Backing up onto a disk may be more expensive but can be done much more quickly.

EMC and other storage vendors are continually leapfrogging each other with new product announcements to remain competitive, Jarrett said.

EMC holds an industry-leading 20 percent market share in external disk storage, according to second-quarter 2006 figures from IDC.

It is followed closely by Hewlett-Packard with 19.3 percent. IBM has 13.2 percent, Hitachi 8 percent, Dell 7.8 percent and Sun Microsystems at 7.1 percent.

- with Robert Mullins