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SAN Sales Thick in the Middle

When it comes to SANs, it looks as if the middle of the road is the place to be.

Major SAN vendors report burgeoning midrange sales, as an expanding pool of medium- to large-sized companies look to network their storage. These customers are drawn to modular designs, software advances, and the expansion of iSCSI as an alternative to Fibre Channel.

Midrange fever is manifest in a rash of recent news. In the last week or so alone, weve seen EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) make midrange announcements:

  • EMC rolled out iSCSI capability for its Clariion midrange systems. Previously, EMC offered native iSCSI only for its high-end Symmetrix. EMC will likely sell iSCSI mostly on its low-end AX100i at first, but it is also making it available in the midrange CX300i and CX500i (see EMC Mounts iSCSI Blitz).
  • While it made no formal announcement, HP has new disaster-recovery software for its EVA SANs, including the EVA 3000 and 5000, that allows automatic failover for applications on the server cluster and storage. The software adds synchronous and asynchronous replication and remote mirroring to EVA systems.
  • IBM added an upgraded 146-Gbyte Fibre Channel drive to the DS4000 system it gets through an OEM deal with Engenio Information Technologies Inc. (see IBM Upgrades Tape, Disk, Software). The new drives spin at 15,000 rpm, up from the 10,000rpm spindle speed of previous 146-Gbyte drives. IBM also offers optional 300-Gbyte, 10,000rpm drives, increasing the maximum capacity of the DS4000 to 67 Tbytes.

According to International Data Corp, revenues for the range of SAN products priced in the range of $15,000 to $150,000 per device is growing more quickly than costlier high-end systems and is a more significant slice of the market than lower-end small- to medium-sized business (SMB) gear.

In the third quarter of 2004, for instance, systems in this price range accounted for $743 million in worldwide factory revenue -- up 6 percent from the quarter before. Systems in the $1,000 to $15,000 range were up 90 percent in sales, but that segment accounted for just $19 million. High-end systems priced at $150,00 and over dropped 9 percent in the same timeframe, representing a market of $898 million.

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