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EMC Proceeds with Caution
Network Appliance's de facto iSCSI standard is not for everyone. Storage giant EMC prefers to take a more cautious approach. "It's one thing to go into a lab, test or one-off an application environment and drop in an array, download the [iSCSI] drivers, and deploy it," says EMC Senior Director of NAS Marketing Tom Joyce. "It's another situation to deploy a few thousand of these things and manage them effectively."
"We believe we're meeting the market where customers are starting to actually deploy [iSCSI]," he continues, "and we're getting to the point where the technology actually works."
EMC's Symmetrix DMX currently allows iSCSI, according to Joyce, and its CLARiiON and Symmetrix products are ultimately targeted to feature it. The Celerra NS700 and NS700G should support it by Q3, 2004.
EMC Competitive Analyst Brian Maher sees the iSCSI picture as more of a SAN issue. "iSCSI is basically SAN technology using a lower-cost interconnect." By this estimation, EMC's SAN expertise should transfer into good long-term iSCSI prospects. Perhaps a NAS in SAN clothing should really be considered as a SAN.
SANs and NAS Working Together
SAN comfort certainly explains the vendor's less cautious leap into gateway NAS, where NAS appliances act as file-based gatekeepers to block-based SAN networks. "Gateway NAS," says EMC's Joyce, "is great for NAS consolidation, where you've got a thousand NAS appliances stuck under desks all over the place, and want to get to a mode where you're managing the file serving capability the same way you're dealing with the block storage capability."
Simply put, a NAS presents a SAN as a NAS to clients better equipped to interface with a NAS — over IP, for example.
The blurring between NAS and SAN is welcome for EMC, whose main NAS customers to date have been those who already "own EMC gear and love EMC gear," says Passmore. EMC has long targeted the extreme high end with its Celerra clusters and has, over the last few years, brought advanced capabilities such as high availability to the mid-tier table, blurring the distinctions between high-end and mid-tier.