EMC Takes a Pass on 4-Gig

Are competitors too early with it, or is EMC late?

January 25, 2006

2 Min Read
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4:15 -- When EMC first disclosed it would make a product announcement Thursday, a lot of people in the industry expected it would roll out 4-Gbit/s Clariion or Symmetrix systems.

After all, IBM, Silicon Graphics, and Sun sell 4-Gbit/s midrange systems from Engenio. Hitachi Data Systems has a 4-Gbit/s midrange array, and Hewlett-Packard is expected to add its own 4-Gbit/s midrange system soon. That appears the next logical step for EMC, too.

Now we know thats not the case. EMC CEO Joe Tucci gave enough information on the company’s earnings call today to provide a good idea of what’s coming, and he never mentioned 4 Gbit/s. (See EMC Makes Good on DMX-3.) EMC people publicly and privately downplays the significance of 4-Gbit/s, because end-to-end 4-Gbit/s systems won’t be available until hard drives support the new bigger pipes. (See Engenio Claims 4-Gbit/s Surge.) And 4-Gbit/s Fibre Channel drives won’t be available until the second half of the year.

EMC’s not alone here. You can find users wondering what all the 4-Gbit/s fuss is about when they’re humming along nicely at 2 Gbit/s. Some storage admins say they could still do fine at 1 Gbit/s if they had to.

But why not 4 Gbit/s now? There’s certainly no downside, and there are two advantages even with 2-Gbit/s back-end connectivity. First, you can connect twice as many servers to a target with 4-Gbit/s switches and storage as you can with 2-Gbit/s connections.Then there’s investment protection. If end-to-end 4-Gbit/s systems will be available at the end of the year, why install 2-Gbit/s arrays now when you can have 4 Gbit/s at the same price?

The 4-Gbit/s market is certainly building. Engenio’s parent company LSI Logic claimed 1,000 4-Gbit/s systems sold over eight months as of last October, and that was before its biggest OEM, IBM, reported strong midrange storage sales last quarter. If it builds quickly enough, you can expect to see EMC jump in without waiting for those 4-Gbit/s disk drives.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Engenio Information Technologies Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Hitachi Data Systems (HDS)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • LSI Logic Corp. (NYSE: LSI)

  • SGI

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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