Dell, EMC Forge Sub-$10K SAN System

Dell and EMC Wednesday dusted off their tight partnership Wednesday by unleashing a new storage area network (SAN) 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.

Dell AX100

Dell/EMC AX100

The new Dell/EMC AX100 (code-named Piranha) was defined by Dell and developed 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.

Bruce Kornfeld, director of enterprise marketing at Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, says 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, and hot-swap drives at a price point below $10,000. The Piranha also features easy-to-use installation and maintenance, according to Kornfeld.

The $9,999 device, also available as a SAN-ready, direct-attached storage (DAS) configuration for $4,999, stores anywhere from 480 GB to 3 TB and employs a Brocade SilkWorm 3250 switch and QLogic host bus adapters (HBAs) . The AX100 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 that development of the AX100 has been driven completely by customer demand, as many existing Dell customers have been asking 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,” says Kornfeld, who notes 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-sized business that has 10, 20, or maybe even 100 servers where in their environment a SAN has maybe been too expensive to deploy.”

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

EMC’s Jay Krone, director of CLARiiON Product Marketing, reports the AX100 will be sold through a distribution network with partners other than Dell, including CDW, Arrow, Avnet, Bell, and TechData.

“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.”

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

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