EMC Centera Gets Nodes Job

EMC unveils smaller fixed-content system aimed at SMEs facing compliance issues

May 9, 2005

3 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is putting Centera on a diet to ward off encroachment from competitors looking to jump into the small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) market.

EMC today started shipping Centera Light,” a four-node version of its content addressed storage (CAS) system for fixed content. The mini-Centera holds 2.2 Tbytes of storage, a bit more than half the capacity of the eight-node version, which up to now has been the smallest of EMC's enterprise configurations.

Although there is one notable change to Centera’s architecture with the new release (more on that in a minute), the smaller version is mostly a marketing move. EMC senses SMEs are ready to deal with compliance archiving issues, just as enterprises have done over the past few years.

“Midsize companies definitely have similar archiving demands now as enterprise companies, but the baseline Centera price was too high for them,” says analyst Arun Taneja of Taneja Group. “Permabit and Archivas and some of the other guys were trying to slide in from the bottom, so EMC wants to plug that hole.”

Sean Lanagan, EMC’s director of product marketing for Centera, admits as much. “If I were a new company coming into the market, I would target the low end,” he says. “And competitors have done that to try and grab customers who said they considered Centera too expensive.”History bears this out. EMC was first into CAS with Centera three years ago, designed to hold and retrieve documents that don’t change after they’re stored, such as archived email, financial reports, and medical images (see EMC Launches Centera). While its first-mover advantage helped Centera gain a foothold with enterprise customers, competitors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) and startups like Permabit zeroed in on smaller customers by offering a lower price (see HP Adds Archiving Apps, Archivas Arrivas, and Permabit Steps on the CAS).

EMC has lowered the cost of Centera, though it's still not cheap. List price for the four-node Centera begins at $100,000, compared to the $148,000 starting price for the enterprise version. Software bundles, including EMC archiving packages like DiskXtender and EmailXtender, cost extra.

How does this stack up to the competition? Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) rebrands Permabit’s CAS product with about 2.3 Tbytes for a list price starting around $75,000 (see StorageTek Taps Permabit's CAS Act and StorageTek & Permabit Mingling). HP’s RISS lists at around $100,000 for 1.7 Tbytes.

About that architecture change: EMC allows all four nodes of the new Centera Light to be used for storage, while the older Centeras requires at least two “access” nodes. Access nodes connect to the application server through the Centera API and include storage cache and Ethernet connections. Storage nodes hold ATA drives.

Unlike previous Centeras, the new version lets customers place disk drives for storage on access nodes. Larger Centera systems with the latest operating system also allow nodes to hold storage.— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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