DataCore Challenges EMC on Performance, “Put Up Or Shut Up!”

In what could be a first for the storage industry, DataCore Software today challenged EMC to a head-to-head storage performance duel. The winner gets considerable bragging rights, but DataCore has said it will add in a side bet for EMC — a new Porsche 911 worth over $137,000.

The ‘shootout’ as it is being labeled by DataCore, is prompted by recent EMC assertions in a VARBusiness article “Expand SANs’ Capacity,” that DataCore’s SANsymphony software is inadequately powered to handle large-scale storage consolidation requirements. EMC’s senior vice president of storage infrastructure software, Chris Gahagan, was quoted:

        "A  lot of these vendors that are proposing virtualization
        say, `You basically put JBOD behind the virtualization
        appliance,' but that doesn't work for a whole lot of reasons.
        If you look at the DataCore product, [for example], it can't
        scale because it's based on off-the-shelf PC technology... .If
        you wanted to put DataCore on a fully loaded Symmetrix, you'd
        have to put two dozen DataCore boxes in front of the Symmetrix
        just to manage the I/O load. That doesn't seem like a good
        consolidation strategy."

Ken Horner, vice president of marketing for DataCore responds, “Standard servers have come of age. Off-the-shelf PC technology happens to be off the charts, not only in terms of price-performance but also in terms of raw performance. Combined with SANsymphony software and its blazingly fast, advanced storage control capabilities, DataCore configurations not only “keep up,” but exhibit a tremendous performance edge over EMC Symmetrix. If they can prove otherwise, we will hand over the keys to one of the fastest cars on the planet. Our message to EMC: Take our car… if you can.”

“EMC’s trash talk has gotten old,” said Ziya Aral, Chairman and CTO, DataCore. “It’s time to hold them accountable. If they accept our challenge, then we will teach them some manners. We will run on a tiny SANSymphony configuration with two nodes, not two-dozen. And yes, we’ll play storage controller with JBODs, though our usual role is networking arrays. And if they don’t show up, we’ll still run the entire spectrum of throughput tests, publish the costs and results and invite EMC to do the same. Enough talk. It’s easy enough to validate claims in our industry.”

Terms of the Challenge

DataCore and EMC will agree to name an independent objective referee to mediate the final details, to oversee the performance challenge and to designate the winner.

EMC’s storage configuration shall consist of:

  • Any EMC Symmetrix Enterprise Information System running the generally available hardware, software, firmware release as of August 29, 2002.
  • EMC can configure the Symmetrix hardware in any commercially available configuration that will optimize performance (no science projects, experimental configurations, etc.).
  • DataCore SANsymphony Software or derivative products may not be included in any part of EMC’s configuration. That would be cheating!

DataCore’s storage configuration shall consist of:

  • Two off-the-shelf copies of the current shipping release of SANsymphony Network Edition Software as generally available on August 29, 2002.
  • Commercially available Fibre Channel adapters, disk and simple disk enclosures (JBODs) in numbers sufficient to match the chosen Symmetrix configuration.
  • Two off-the-shelf Intel-based PC servers. The servers will be the smallest and lowest cost practical given the chosen EMC configuration.

Any simple workload that comprises some combination of IOP/s and throughput, cached and un-cached I/Os, reads and writes consistent with proving or disproving EMC’s claims.

The independent auditing firm (referee) will determine the winner by comparing the stated workloads and calculating weightings determined prior to the challenge.


  • If EMC’s Symmetrix configuration wins, DataCore will buy EMC a new 2002 Porsche 911 Turbo valued at $137,140 (U.S. MSRP). Alternatively, DataCore will donate equivalent funds to EMC’s favorite charity.
  • If DataCore’s SANsymphony configuration wins, EMC will agree to let DataCore publicly disclose the challenge results and the estimated street price for the competing hardware in whatever scenarios and publications DataCore sees fit.

There was no word from EMC as to whether they would particpate in the challenge, but it seems unlikely. A.J Ragosta of EMC said “Fringe players like this should spend more money developing better products rather than investing in attention grabbing stunts.”

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