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EMC's DMX a Slow Starter?

The early line on Symmetrix DMX: Its initial ramp may not be as steep as EMC is hoping

While it's early in the game, industry watchers say it appears EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is seeing slow initial customer pickup of its Symmetrix DMX.

EMC launched the DMX, the next generation of its high-end storage system, on Feb. 3. The new system features a new non-blocking I/O architecture, dubbed the Direct Matrix Architecture, that the company says dramatically increases its internal bandwidth -- and, according to EMC, flat-out beats the performance of its main rival, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS). The DMX is also available in three models, giving customers more choice; and EMC asserts that it has brought its pricing in line with the rest of the industry (see EMC Soups Up Symm and EMC vs HDS: Bandwidth Brawl).

In sum, the Symmetrix DMX was designed to get EMC back in the high-end market after getting its clock cleaned by HDS in the last year or so. EMC's goal is for the DMX family to account for 50 percent of its Symmetrix sales in the first quarter.

So how's it doing? EMC wouldn't comment on sales so far. But the early line on the DMX -- and note that, just three weeks after its launch, this is very early -- is that sales may not be ramping as steeply as EMC had been hoping.

Goldman Sachs & Co. analyst Laura Conigliaro, in a research note this morning, says that EMC's first quarter of 2003 seems to be tracking as expected but that business slowed in mid-January and into February, following typical seasonal patterns that "were somewhat exacerbated by customer anticipation of the DMX announcement." This indicates that the first quarter will be even more back-end loaded than usual, she says. "EMC will need a strong finish to beat our 1Q revenue estimate of $1.4 billion."

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