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EMC to Refresh Symmetrix DMX Systems

EMC Wednesday is planning to unveil a refresh of its high-end storage systems, the Symmetrix DMX line, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

The sources told internetnews.com these particular revisions include enhanced interface support and advanced replication capabilities. "EMC is stepping up their ability for these issues," the sources said.

The Symmetrix DMX refresh will include the new DMX3000 array, which features as many as 576 drives and 84TB of capacity. The DMX3000 will also be available with a new version of Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), offering asynchronous replication over thousands of miles for disaster recovery, the sources said.

The Hopkinton, Mass., storage systems vendor also plans to unveil upgrades to its DMX800, DMX1000 and DMX2000 arrays, including popular data transport protocols such as native Ficon mainframe connectivity and Internet SCSI (iSCSI) for connecting low-end servers to high-end storage for backup.

EMC also added snap copy functions to Symmetrix for live data backup that doesn't hamper service. To give users more options and interoperability, new Symmetrix server controllers will allow users to mix and match data transport protocols among Ficon, Gigabit Ethernet and iSCSI.

EMC refused to comment on this story.

Unveiled to much fanfare in February, the Direct Matrix Architecture and accompanying Symmetrix systems sounded a return to the Hopkinton, Mass. company's glory days of innovation, according to many industry analysts, who said they saw the company lose market share to rivals such as IBM and Hitachi Data Systems in the high-end space.

Featuring a new interconnect framework for piping data effortlessly from one point to another, Direct Matrix Architecture eliminates the performance ceiling inherent in all bus- and switch-based storage architectures. Symmetrix DMX, which is compatible with all EMC software, provide high performance for sustained workloads and unexpected activity.

EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci said then that his firm could have developed yet another bus- or switch-based Symmetrix, but chose not to because customers were expecting something more powerful, and worth the investment.

To be sure, analysts lauded EMC's achievements at the time, noting the products put EMC back in the performance leadership position, which they could not claim in recent years.

Particularly impressing was EMC's ability to make all of the previous Symmetrix-compatible software work with the new DMX line, as well as disk compatibility across lines. Software compatibility allows for some creative use of new and old solutions.

For example, users could use the DMX 800 modular units as replication solutions for high-end DMX or existing Symmetrix, or even use the older Symmetrix as replication targets for the new DMX products.

But hardware is hardly the most compelling offering for EMC these days. The company is generating plenty of positive press for its recent software-oriented maneuvers, including its purchase of BMC's storage line and outright acquisition of Legato Systems for $1.3 billion earlier this month.

The rap is that EMC is evolving into a proprietary provider of hardware systems, but an open seller of storage software.