EMC, NetApp Ready New Wares

Excelsior and Sledgehammer are code names for upcoming NetApp and EMC systems

February 18, 2006

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Excelsior and Sledgehammer could be here in a few months, although neither has advanced beyond the code name stage yet.

Excelsior is the high-end system NetApp CEO Dan Warmenhoven talks up without giving too much detail. Sledgehammer is the code name that EMC isnt talking about at all for its midrange Clariion with 4 Gbit/s and iSCSI support. The systems won’t directly compete but will probably launch around the same time.

Warmenhoven spoke of Excelsior during NetApp’s earnings call Wednesday night, referring to it as a “new high-end system positioned well above the FAS980,” which is NetApp’s current high-end system. How much higher will Excelsior go? “We’re talking like two-ex of differential between them,” Warmenhoven says.

He notes that several beta customers are using the new system, but it probably won’t ship until April or May at the earliest. The big box will eventually tie in with NetApp’s Data OnTap GX operating system, which will incorporate technology acquired from Spinnaker for $300 million in November of 2003. (See NetApp Annexes Spinnaker.)

NetApp refused to comment further, but sources say Excelsior will be positioned to compete with the EMC DMX2000, Hitachi Data Systems USP 600, and IBM DS8000 -- systems that fall into the middle of those vendors’ enterprise offerings. Excelsior will eventually support up to 1,000 drives. FAS980 supports 672 drives. Excelsior will also eventually scale to eight nodes. No current NetApp system is larger than two nodes.Warmenhoven expects IBM to sell Excelsior as part of its OEM deal with NetApp, even though Big Blue has its own line of enterprise systems.

Like Excelsior, Data OnTap GX is in beta. NetApp plans to demo it at its March 14 analyst day.

According to Warmenhoven, FAS3000 customers will be able to choose between NetApp’s current Data OnTap 7G OS and Data OnTap GX until the Spinnaker technology is completely integrated into NetApp’s base OS.(See NetApp Makes Virtual Upgrade and NetApp Freshens What's OnTap .) That is not expected to happen until late this year.

EMC executives haven’t publicly discussed their 4-Gbit/s Clariion CX, but Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said on his earnings call Thursday night that Dell and EMC were planning to roll out systems with 4-Gbit/s iSCSI and SAS beginning in the spring. EMC and Dell co-market the Clariion CX midrange platform.

Sources say EMC plans to unveil Sledgehammer in April with support for 4 Gbit/s and iSCSI. HP will officially divulge its midrange EVA systems with 4 Gbit/s and iSCSI support Tuesday. (See HP Plans HW/SW Upgrades.)Up to now, EMC has taken the position that the market is not ready for 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel, but one analyst thinks the vendor has been waiting for the new Intel Blackford chips to be ready. According to the source, EMC hoped to get the new chips last fall, but had to wait because Intel was late in shipping them.

Blackford has twice the buses and memory channels as its predecessor, with fully buffered memory modules and support for SAS embedded on the motherboard.

“EMC was waiting for Blackford,” the analyst explains. “It’s their position that you wouldn’t get the full performance benefit from four-gig with the old chips.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC)

  • Network Appliance Inc.0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights