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EMC, NetApp Ready New Wares

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.

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