EMC refreshes storage line

Symmetrix, Clariion lines get new models

EMC Corp. is adding new features to some of its storage products, with claims of improved performance, energy efficiency and ease of use, to remain competitive with rivals' offerings.

EMC Monday said its high-end Symmetrix line is being improved with a new model, the DMX-3 model 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 center. 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 Corp.

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.

"We discovered that some of the same customers who were buying the iSCSI models were also buying Fibre Channel models. Now you can integrate them all in the same array," said Barbara Robidoux, EMC's vice president of storage platforms product marketing.

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.

EMC has to keep up with competitors and with growing customer demand for more storage, better performance and greater energy efficiency, said Brian Garrett an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, a market research firm.

A few years ago, enterprise customers were primarily concerned with price and performance, but more recently, energy efficiency has been added to the list of requirements for new storage. "Power consumption is showing up more and more as something that matters to them," Garrett said.

Some of the EMC announcements are just "incremental" improvements in existing models, he said, but 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 340 terabytes. A cumulative total 70 petabytes of EMC Disk Library storage capacity has been deployed in the last two years. One petabyte is 10,000G bytes. Garrett 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, Garrett 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 Co., with 19.3 percent. IBM has 13.2 percent, Hitachi 8 percent, Dell Inc. 7.8 percent and Sun Microsystems Inc. at 7.1 percent.