EMC chases SME spend with new low-cost storage box

26 May 2004

EMC has launched a new networked storage system for small to medium enterprises that is said to offer reduced complexity and lower cost.

Mostly known for high-end (and high cost) storage systems for large computing infrastructures, EMC is now chasing a market that represents a new opportunity for the hardware maker. As such, it will not be competing against other products in its own range but instead it will chase market share held by other manufacturers such as IBM, HP and smaller storage vendors.

According to Jay Krone, director of Clariion platform marketing, the market represents a US$1.5bn opportunity for EMC over the next three years. “It has a price tag, a form factor and a usage model that are brand new for EMC,” Krone told siliconrepublic.com.

The new AX100 has been designed to be easy to use and can be installed by the user, Krone claimed. All of the software and hardware for the product is pre-packaged in a single box. The user interface for the device is similar in concept to installing software on a standard PC, he said.

The system has a suggested retail price of US$6,000 but this is likely to vary somewhat, given distribution and sales costs. “The price point is basically the same as trays of SCSI disks,” said Krone. “What we’re really offering is the benefit of networked storage at a price customers are already paying for less functional storage.”

With the AX100, businesses can easily reallocate storage dynamically according to their requirements. The device appears as a ‘pool’ of storage and various servers within an organisation can have more or less capacity added to them as needs dictate. “Microsoft Windows operating systems are pretty understanding of this kind of behaviour,” said Krone. He added that the AX100 can also be connected to servers running Linux or Novell NetWare operating systems. This feature would not be possible with systems where storage is part of the server.

The AX100 can be configured with varying capacity, from 480GB up to a maximum of 3 Terabytes. It comes as a single- or dual-processor version. The system architecture has been designed so that there is no single point of failure. Even where there is just one processor, the cache memory has been adjusted to allow mirroring to occur, which provides data integrity and availability.

The AX100 will be sold to SMEs through computer resellers and via EMC’s partner Dell. It will also be manufactured in EMC’s facility in Cork, which builds all hardware to be sold outside the US.

By Gordon Smith