EMC Debuts DMX, Part Deux

Takes high-end Symmetrix higher with DMX3000 and throws in iSCSI. Does it put EMC in front?

July 30, 2003

5 Min Read
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Amid a broad launch of enhancements to its flagship Symmetrix family, EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) today took its high-end storage system several notches higher with the DMX3000, which doubles capacity over the previous DMX2000 and adds Ficon mainframe connectivity.

Also today, EMC announced iSCSI options for the DMX line (designed for connecting low-end servers for which Fibre Channel is impractical) and introduced a lower-end model of the DMX800. The iSCSI option is available via the four-port Multiprotocol Director, which lets customers provide Ficon, iSCSI, and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity on the same controller card.

"With this announcement, DMX becomes the industry's best-connected storage," said Dave Donatelli, executive VP of storage platform operations at EMC, on a conference call this morning.

In addition, EMC rolled out several software enhancements for the Symmetrix, including a new version of Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), offering asynchronous replication over thousands of miles for disaster recovery, and a new version of Enginuity, the Symmetrix operating system, that allows for nondisruptive upgrades.

EMC said all the products it announced today are currently in beta testing and will be available in September 2003. The news from the Hopkinton, Mass., storage vendor had been widely expected since late last week (see EMC Flexes DMXes).Analysts say the new high-end DMX3000, with its combination of greater capacity, Ficon connectivity, and asynchronous replication, effectively fills in the last holes the DMX line had in EMC's ongoing competition with Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

EMC will "likely shut off most of the remaining issues that competitors such as Hitachi Data Systems... and IBM have used against EMC, helping to ease EMC's selling effort and providing more opportunities for market-share gains," wrote Goldman Sachs & Co. analyst Laura Conigliaro in a research note yesterday.

Joe Tucci, president and CEO of EMC, acknowledged that the company had lost bids with certain customers that needed more capacity than the 288 drives offered by the DMX2000, because it had to offer two systems.

"It was an area for us of some losses, because obviously it's more expensive for us to offer two systems [instead of one]," he said. "One of our gaps was not having a system with more than 288 drives." EMC now expects to get "incremental wins" for this class of customer. Tucci added that, to date, "absolutely zero accounts" have requested a system with more than 400 drives.

Since its February launch of the Symmetrix DMX -- which features a "matrix" architecture EMC claims kicks up the system's internal bandwidth to 64 GByte/s -- EMC has been hamstrung in selling storage to mainframe customers because of the lack of Ficon support. As a stopgap measure, EMC rolled out the Symmetrix z8000, based on the previous-generation architecture (see EMC Soups Up Symm and EMC Boosts Symm 8000, Intros z8000).The new DMX systems and features from EMC include:

  • Symmetrix DMX3000: The new three-bay system provides between 192 and 576 drives for a maximum of up to 84 Tbytes of raw capacity. While that's still less than HDS's Lightning 9900V (which theoretically supports up to 146 Tbytes), analysts believe very few customers are packing that much storage in a single system anyway. The starting price for the DMX3000 is $1.7 million.

  • Lower-priced DMX800: EMC says it will cut the cost of the 800 by 30 percent, with a starting price of $284,000 (compared with $406,000 previously). The 800 provides between 580 Gbytes and 17 Tbytes of storage.

  • iSCSI support: EMC will offer native iSCSI connectivity for its DMX line for customers who have been "put off by the high cost of Fibre Channel," said Donatelli. "Now, with iSCSI, they can consolidate more of their storage at a lower cost alongside their Fibre Channel SAN." He added that EMC is delivering "more than a protocol," noting that the iSCSI has been certified and tested as part of the company's interoperability matrix.

  • SRDF/A: EMC claims the asynchronous version of its disk-replication software will reduce bandwidth consumption by 30 percent, because it mirrors delta sets of data every 30 seconds instead of constantly updating ordered writes (as the traditional synchronous version of SRDF does). SRDF/A now allows EMC to compete head-to-head with HDS and IBM, which each offer asynchronous disk mirroring for their high-end arrays.

  • Nondisruptive Operating System: A new version of the Symmetrix operating system, Enginuity 5670, allows users to perform software upgrades and add hardware without any disruption in service. "This is a market requirement for the enormous SANs that people are putting in with thousands of servers," says Chuck Hollis, VP of platforms marketing at EMC. "There is no such thing as "scheduled downtime.' "

  • EMC Snap: The company says this copy software uses only 30 percent additional disk space for copies, whereas EMC's TimeFinder copy software requires 100 percent of the original storage.

  • SRDF over Gigabit Ethernet: Allows DMX customers to send SRDF directly over IP without having to use channel extension devices, such as those from CNT (Nasdaq: CMNT).

But why did EMC introduce iSCSI first for the high-end Symmetrix line, rather than its midrange Clariion family? Most analysts have expressed bafflement that the Symmetrix would be the first in line for iSCSI (see Is EMC Overshooting on iSCSI?).

Tucci said EMC will provide native iSCSI connectivity across its entire line -- including the Clariion -- at some future date. The reason it came out for the Symmetrix first, he said, was because an engineer in the DMX group came up with the concept and ran with it. "We're going to do it everywhere... It was just good timing [on the DMX]," he said.

The iSCSI option, available with the new Multiprotocol Director card, was internally developed by EMC, according to Hollis. "We consider it important intellectual property," he says. The card includes a PowerPC processor on each port; EMC says one iSCSI port can support between 7 and 12 servers.

Hollis adds that EMC has no plans to support Fibre Channel over IP (FCIP) or Internet Fibre Channel Protocol (iFCP) in its storage systems. "FCIP and iFCP are SAN-bridging protocols; they really don't belong in the array," he says.Todd Spangler, US Editor, Byte and Switch

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