EMC Gets ‘Bigger, Faster, Better’

EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci confirmed this week 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 said.

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 drive 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 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 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. Symmetrix still accounts for the bulk of EMC’s system sales, but Clariion has been coming on strong.

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

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

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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