EMC Gets ‘Bigger, Faster, Better’

EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci confirmed that the information systems
vendor is upgrading its Symmetrix DMX storage server line next week.

It’s the company’s latest move to try and distance itself from rivals such as IBM and Hitachi Data Systems in the high end of the data storage market.

Analysts said the Hopkinton, Mass., vendor’s new Symmetrix DMX3500 and
DMX4500 models, which Tucci referred to as Symm 7, pick up where the DMX-2
systems left off. Its global cache will
increase from 256 gigabytes (GB) to 512GB. The new systems will move data
across Fibre Channel at four gigabits per second.

Susquehanna Financial Group storage analyst Kaushik Roy said the new boxes
will be more modular and will likely offer dual cache. Dual or mirrored
cache means it is redundant, so if there is failure in the cache memory it
is backed up by another cache in the cluster. This capability will put EMC
right into the mix with HDS.

“It will be bigger, faster, with better performance, plus dual cache,” Roy

As Tucci said on
Thursday’s second-quarter earnings call, the storage space is headed toward
disks that hold more storage capacity and even more disks in a chassis.

EMC will follow suit, with support for 146GB drives. The DMX3500 will boast
1,440 drives, with the DMX4500 boasting 1,920.

Roy also expects a modular backplane, improved Symmetric Remote Data Facility and improved snapshot capabilities.

Despite these improvements, Roy questioned what kind of impact these speeds,
feeds and drives increases will have on the market.

The analyst said he doesn’t expect the new Symm 7 models to be huge revenue
drivers the way the first DMX (Symm 6) was. This is because the generation
before the first DMX, Symm 5, was an old architecture. When the new Matrix
architecture appeared
in February 2003, it changed the game, he said.

“The difference between Symm 5 and Symm 6 was significant whereas the
difference between Symm 6 and Symm 7 is not going to be huge,” Roy said.
“There was a huge pent-up demand from customers.”

EMC followed up a promise to upgrade its DMX system within 18 months by
unveiling DMX-2 the
DMX-2 just one year later. The most powerful of these machines, the DMX3000,
boasted 256GB of global cache and as many as 576 disk drives.

Roy said the high end of the line is still a good enough machine to compete
well with IBM’s DS8000 or HDS’ TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform.

“There’s no need for another faster or bigger machine,” Roy said, noting
that the high end of the storage market is not growing the way it did a few
years ago. In fact, he said high-end features have trickled down into the
mid-market offerings, particularly in the case of EMC’s Clariion line.

This has led to some cannibalization of DMX, the analyst said. EMC’s latest
figures bear this argument out: The company said Symmetrix revenues grew
only 4 percent for the quarter while Clariion continued its consecutive
quarterly pace of more than 30 percent growth at 32 percent.

“Even if they do make it incrementally better, the demand is not there,” Roy

EMC’s next major event after the new DMX launch will be its financial
analyst event in New York City on Aug. 4.

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