RealTime IT News

EMC Spruces Up Symmetrix DMX Line

As previously reported, EMC unleashed its grandest storage system to date, improved upon its replication software and added new data migration support.

The Hopkinton, Mass. storage company is improving on the Symmetrix DMX line it announced less than six months ago, one that EMC President and CEO Joseph Tucci said on a conference call Wednesday registered 80 percent of EMC's systems revenue in the second quarter.

Holding to its promise of providing a system more than twice as powerful as its previous largest DMX machine, the Symmetrix DMX3000 lead the way. Designed for large, rapidly changing workloads, the machine powers ip to 576 drives for a raw capacity of more than 84 terabytes (TB) and usable capacities of up to 73.5 TB. The DMX2000 maxxed out at 288 drives and 42TB.

But not everything came up smelling roses on the call. While the new Symmetrix DMX3000 is clearly a step up in a short timeframe, some analysts wondered what effect it might have on the relatively young DMX2000. If it is twice the power and performance, would the DMX3000 not render the DMX2000 questionable, or at least cannibalize some of its sales?

EMC Executive Vice President, Storage Platforms Operations David Donatelli said not having a system to fill the gap between 288 drives and 576 drives was "a point of dissatisfaction" for customers and did crimp EMC's sales a bit, but that he didn't expect the DMX3000 to harm the DMX2000 machines much.

While some customers did look for something to fill the gap, EMC provided them two machines if they needed a number of drives north of 288. Now, customers can take care of their needs in one shot with the DMX3000.

On the call, Tucci was just as excited about what he called the most important software innovation at EMC since '95 or '96's release of SRDF/TimeFinder, the vendor's highly popular replication software for business continuity.

The new SRDF/A software employs new technologies to maintain a recoverable and restartable copy of data across any distance. Also provided is Native Gigabit Ethernet SRDF, which facilitates remote replications without channel conversion devices.

EMC also announced EMC Snap, which is space-saving replication software for high-end storage. Snap uses only a portion of the storage capacity previously needed for local replications, which allows users to make more copies of data.

In other developments, Donatelli said EMC has added native fiber connectivity (FICON) and iSCSI connectivity across the entire Symmetrix DMX line. While Symmetrix systems previously relied on the much slower enterprise system (ESCON) connectivity, the company hopes the FICON connectivity will keep some customers from going to rival IBM for what they need.

As an alternative to Fibre Channel connectivity, iSCSI lets customers use their network infrastructures to consolidate and connect more servers into their SAN environments. iSCSI is implemented through the new Multi-protocol Channel Director, letting customers mix and match iSCSI, FICON and Gigabit Ethernet SRDF connectivity ports within any Symmetrix DMX system on a single board.

While Fibre Channel remains popular in the IT industry, sometimes its cost has been a deterrent to consolidation on a SAN. iSCSI alleviates that pain for high-end storage systems. Also, while many competitors, such as IBM and HP use iSCSI, they don't yet provide it for the high-end.

Tony Prigmore, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Storage Group, said this could provide EMC with quite an advantage.

"First-mover advantage could be huge here," he said. "If they can deliver the message to the customer base quickly, they really have an opportunity to distance themselves from the competition. Server connections are what storage success will be measured on, and iSCSI opens the floodgates for that."

Meanwhile, back on the server side, EMC did unveil an entry-level, modular Symmetrix DMX800 configuration that provides all of the bang of the full Symmetrix DMX system, but, at $284,000, has a starting price of a third less than the first DMX800. Raw capacities for the new configuration scale from 580GB to more than 17TB.

The new products will be available this September. The starting price for a Symmetrix DMX3000 is $1.7 million. SRDF/A prices begin at $20,000, while Snap prices begin at $33,000. Software list prices are based on capacity tiers.