EMC Router's Ready

EMC plans to deliver storage virtualization appliance Monday, after giving IBM and Hitachi big leads

May 14, 2005

2 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) will finally take the wraps off its storage router Monday, when it officially launches the long-awaited virtualization appliance at its annual Tech Summit in New Orleans.

EMC spokesman Dave Farmer confirmed the router will be announced Monday, although he declined to give details. He did concede there would be few surprises, considering EMC has been hyping it since last summer and demonstrated it at several trade shows this year (see EMC Takes Storage Router for a Spin and New EMC Group Jabs Veritas).

There are apt to be some disappointments, too. Sources familiar with EMCs product say its first version will not include all the virtualization functionality of the IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) SAN Volume Controller and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) TagmaStore. EMC will add features down the road, with the first upgrade planned for the first quarter of 2006.

The 1.0 version available in June will allow storage pooling, dynamic volume migration, and snapshots. Future support is planned for more advanced features such as remote replication and continuous data protection (CDP).

The main function of the router in its first iteration will be to move data from one array to another without disruption or downtime. EMC has pledged to support storage from IBM, Hitachi, and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ).The architecture is the same that EMC executives sketched out at their analyst day last June. It consists of EMC application and management software running on an out-of-band hardware appliance and an intelligent switch. Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), and McData Corp. (Nasdaq: MCDTA) are developing intelligent switches for the router, although McData’s hardware is not expected to be available at launch (see Cisco Seeks Intelligence and Spaid Breaks Ground).

The storage router’s official announcement will undoubtedly renew debate over where storage virtualization should take place. EMC is a proponent of out-of-band virtualization; IBM’s SVC runs on an inband appliance; and Hitachi runs virtualization in cache in the controller (see Hitachi Struts Mr. Universal and EMC & IBM in Virtual Skirmish).

One thing is certain: EMC is playing catch-up. IBM has been shipping SVC in 2003, and Hitachi unveiled its virtualization when it launched TagmaStore last September.

“If they had a full-blown virtualization box today, they’d still be seven or eight months behind us,” says Claus Mikkelsen, Hitachi’s senior director of storage applications.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch0

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