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IBM, EMC Angle For The Midrange Customer

IBM moved to one-up EMC's Clariion line by unveiling a midrange storage server that pipes data at 4 gigabits per second.

EMC countered by unveiling a four-node Centera box for archiving fixed content.

While product upgrades are frequent among storage system vendors, IBM's TotalStorage DS4800 cracks the ballyhooed 4 Gb mark. Most competing machines ferry data at 2 Gbps.

That performance should enable the server to help high-performance computers draw from a wealth of data. This makes the DS4800 ideal for software that requires a lot of bandwidth, including applications for scientific research and financial services, said IBM spokesperson Charlie Andrews.

The DS4800 will carry up to 67 terabytes of data and features new data failover software. Also new from Big Blue in the box is a "call home" function to alert IBM if there is a problem with the system. Two Ethernet ports and a switched expansion drawer round out the perks of the new machine.

Available for $54,000 June 17, the box is priced similarly to the EMC CX700 and HP, but offers up to twice the sustainable throughput of those machines in certain scenarios, Andrews said.

The DS4800 works with a number of operating systems, including AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Windows and Linux.

Andrews made it clear that the DS4800 is not a replacement to the DS4500 machine. Rather, the new device takes IBM's midrange attack further up the stack for customers who need more performance. IBM's DS6000 and DS8000 systems extend IBM's reach from the midrange to the high-end enterprise.

"There's a lot more growth in the midrange," Andrews said. "In terms of expanding market reach, the midrange has been a very good place for the last couple of years, significantly outpacing revenue growth in' the enterprise space."

EMC made its own splash for medium-sized businesses Monday. The Hopkinton, Mass., information systems vendor released a Centera machine with four-nodes. While the box is designed for midzize companies, it offers the same self-management features available in eight-node Centera servers for large companies, said EMC spokesman Steve Spataro.

EMC created the new Centera machine by reconfiguring its CenterStar operating system to allow content to be stored on all storage or access nodes. The four-node configuration may also be mounted in an EMC cabinet or other racks to save floor space.

Spataro said EMC made the play in response to requests from midsize clients that said they faced the same challenges as larger organizations in terms of archiving e-mail and other business record. The new Centera is a product of EMC's Making Storage Simple campaign to bring cater to SMBs.

The four-node Centera server will be available from EMC and partners this month with 2.2 terabytes of capacity. EMC expects to price the machine at less than $100,000, compared to previous Centera boxes that sell for 135,000.