Dell & EMC Prep Low-End SAN

Partners ready to attack SMB market with 'sub-entry level' Clariion

February 21, 2004

2 Min Read
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Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq: DELL) and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) have joined a growing roster of vendors looking to bring SANs to smaller businesses.

Dell VP Russ Holt today said the company is working on a sub-entry” SAN platform for release later this year. Speaking to analysts on a conference call, Holt described the elements of the product: "Aligning with that platform is the delivery of a low-cost HBA solution and a low-cost switch solution, so we we’ll see a much lower cost of entry for SAN solutions.”

The small to medium-sized business (SMB) market is considered fertile ground for storage vendors (see The Battle for Smallsville). SAN makers obviously want in: Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP) are already attacking the market, and startup XIOtech Corp. recently announced a new entry-level SAN (see HP Takes the Low Road), NetApp Nets a Bundle and XIOtech Stresses Simple SANs).

Holt gave few details about the low-end system, but there have been whispers that Dell and EMC will co-brand two lower-end versions of the Clariion SAN they currently sell. Dell, which manufactures the lowest end of three current Clariion systems that it co-brands with EMC, would manufacture the new system. The two companies earlier this month announced an upgrade of the existing Clariion line (see EMC Hits Hardware Refresh and Dell Enhances CX Line).

EMC spokesman Dave Farmer would not confirm a lower-end Clariion is on the way. “We have said we will continue to scale our platform up and down,” he said.Holt said an entry-level SAN has become a viable option for vendors because Serial ATA (SATA) is reducing the cost of hard drives, and Dell has won concessions from HBA and switch makers. “As we started to introduce this new sub-entry platform, we went to the switch vendors and the HBA vendors and said, ‘Look, we really want to reset the cost point for SAN solutions. Which one of you wants to come do that with us?’ And that is what you’ll see as we introduce this sub-entry platform.”

Industry sources say Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) will be Dell’s switch OEM for the low-end system, with either Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) or QLogic Corp. (Nasdaq: QLGC) as the HBA vendor.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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