Dell, EMC Forge Sub-$10K SAN System

Dell and EMC Wednesday dusted off their tight partnership Wednesday by unleashing a new storage area network server for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) that is as aggressively priced as it is full featured.

Competition for market share in the SMB space has been sizzling for the past year in the IT community and there has been no shortage of interest among storage vendors to address the demand.

Dell and its rivals IBM and HP have traditionally catered to SMBs, but EMC has come on strong in the past year, offering the NetWin 200 and 110 NAS machines for customers with lean budgets.

The new Dell/EMC AX100 (code-named Piranha) was defined by Dell and developed as part of the CLARiiON line by EMC, but Dell has manufacturing rights going forward, just as it does with the Dell/EMC CX 200 and 300 systems, based on its multi-year partnership with its Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage systems partner.

The AX100 will be also be sold through a distribution network with partners other than Dell, including CDW, Arrow, Avnet and others.

Bruce Kornfeld, director of enterprise marketing at Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, said the AX100 is the industry’s first SAN server to employ enterprise-class features such as three terabytes of storage capacity, RAID 5 support, snapshots, hot-swap drives at a price point below $10,000 and features easy-to-use installation and maintenance.

The $9,999 device, also available as a SAN-ready, direct-attached storage configuration for $4,999, stores anywhere from 480 gigabytes to 3 terabytes, employs a Brocade SilkWorm 3250 switch and QLogic host bus adapters (HBAs) . It also supports Windows, Linux and Novell NetWare operating systems.

Dell and EMC believe getting price points for new hardware below $10,000 will attract interest from a legion of cost-conscious customers.

Kornfeld told the genesis for the AX100 is completely driven by customer demand, as many existing Dell customers asked for specific functionality and features to make their lives easier in data centers.

“We listen to customers, get the feedback and then go creatively partner with our technology partners [EMC, Brocade, QLogic] to bring solutions to market,” said Kornfeld, who noted that Dell’s previous lowest cost SAN system cost about $20,000. “Customers screaming for this kind of product include anything from a small-and medium-business that has 10, 20 or maybe even 100 servers where in their environment SAN has maybe been too expensive to deploy.”

Public sector organizations such as universities and hospitals with lean budgets are also primary target customers, Kornfeld said. Dell will build the AX100 in the U.S., Ireland and Malaysia.

EMC’s Jay Krone, director of CLARiiON Product Marketing, said the AX100 is available from Tech Data, Fujitsu-Siemens (as the FibreCAT AX100), Arrow Electronics, Avnet Hall-Mark, Bell Micro, MTI, Ideal, CDW, OpenWay, Samsung (as the StorageMax ZCX 100), Skydata, Bull, Source and others.

“We took all of the hardware technology and the software technology, packaged it up into a single unit under a single model number targeting the channel because it makes it easier to buy when you’re a channel partner,” Krone said. “What our channel partners end up being able to provide is one-stop shopping for a low-cost SAN and that’s exactly what I think Dell is doing.”

In related news, Dell and EMC celebrated their three-year partnership by announcing an expansion of their pact during a news conference in London Wednesday.

Dell President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Rollins and EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci said Dell will offer backup and replication software from EMC’s LEGATO Software division.

“The vision of the Dell and EMC partnership is to combine our strengths to scale advanced storage solutions down into volume markets as well as to improve the TCO equation for customers,” said Rollins on the call. “As we enter our third year of the partnership we mark our success today by delivering unprecedented levels of performance and value to customers of all sizes.”

Accordingly, Dell will sell LEGATO NetWorker Dell Edition to provide speedy backup and recovery and the LEGATO RepliStor Dell Edition data replication software at a time when data retrieval and copying are considered crucial to help enterprises deal with compliance regulations.

NetWorker Dell Edition is available now and RepliStor Dell Edition will be available worldwide this summer.

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