EMC to Challenge NetApp at The High End

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EMC next week will announce its most powerful
network-attached storage (NAS) machine to take on NAS market leader Network
Appliance, internetnews.com has learned.

The Celerra NSX is an array that will host up to 8 blades that perform up to 300,000 network file system (NFS)
operations per second, a source familiar with the company’s
plans said.

The machine will be used to store and ferry data efficiently throughout
networks using the NAS protocol, which is hard-disk storage
that is set up with its own network address rather than relying on
the computer network.

EMC declined to comment on the product, which performs at a much higher
level than NetApp’s most powerful NAS box, the GF980C. Each 980C revs to
36,000 NFS operations per second. Two GF980C filers may be clustered together
to run simultaneously, mustering a maximum of 72,000 NFS operations per

“They’re defining a new high-end for a single NAS box,” the source said.
“With the Celerra NSX, EMC is going to be at the head of the class with this

EMC’s new machine is a return shot across NetApp’s bow.

NetApp last week beefed up
its partnership with IBM. This week, the Sunnyvale, Calif., company is
determined to put further pressure on EMC by demonstrating how its V-Series
systems can virtualize storage on EMC’s systems at Storage Networking World
2005 in Phoenix.

But EMC’s move points to a broader picture being painted in the competitive
NAS space, where NetApp and EMC own 37 percent and 34 percent of the market,
respectively, according to IDC.

Three players make up the NAS battlefield in the storage space:
Network Appliance, EMC and a conglomerate of players that sell storage
products based on Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003. These include Intel and server-oriented companies, such as Dell and HP.

Microsoft-based products have taken over the lower end of the market,
accounting for roughly 50 percent of the NAS products shipped overall. By
revenue, Windows-based NAS products only pull in about 10 percent to 15 percent of the
NAS market, leaving the majority to NetApp and EMC.

But Windows-based products are relatively inexpensive, so they are not going
away. This is forcing NAS leaders like NetApp and EMC to swim upstream,
fishing for customers in the midrange to high-end of the industry to adopt

“If they stay in the lower end of the midrange and below, they are going to
be creamed by Microsoft-based products,” the source said.

The heated competition between NetApp and EMC could get more interesting, as
their products are increasingly getting bundled with databases from
companies like Oracle or IBM. NetApp has said nearly a third of their NAS
products are being sold in conjunction with databases.

If more and more NAS products get bundled with databases, this could be a
new source of revenue for both NetApp and EMC.

“Now that databases and NAS boxes have become compatible with each other,
going upstream in NAS performance means that they are going to play more and
more in the database space, which is wide-open territory for them, because
the majority of the databases were not playing with NAS before,” the source

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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