By Dave Simpson
In the next quarter, EMC plans to ship a Windows-based network-attached storage (NAS) appliance (the NetWin 2000), marking the company's departure from its proprietary approach to NAS (the high-end Celerra server). EMC CEO and president Joe Tucci and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the announcement at the EMC Technology Summit in April.
The two companies plan to integrate Windows technologies into EMC NAS platforms. EMC will also integrate Windows 2003 APIs into its ControlCenter storage management software framework. The APIs encompass Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), Virtual Disk Service (VDS), and Multipath I/O (MPIO).
p--Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (left) and EMC president and CEO Joe Tucci announce EMC's entry into the Windows-based NAS market and an extended software partnership.
Chuck Hollis, EMC's vice president of platforms marketing, says that EMC will integrate applications such as ControlCenter, TimeFinder, Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), and Enterprise Replication Manager (ERM) with Microsoft's APIs.
The companies will also engage in joint sales and marketing, as well as service and support, although details were not provided.
EMC licensed Microsoft's Windows Powered NAS 3.0 (the software formerly known as Windows Server Appliance Kit, or SAK), for use in the forthcoming NetWin 200 midrange NAS appliance. The NetWin 200 will be based on EMC's Clariion CX 200 disk arrays and Intel-based servers and will compete with Windows-based NAS servers from vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and relative newcomer Iomega.
Although positioned as a low-end or midrange NAS device (relative to EMC's high-end Celerra), the company apparently does not plan to compete on price. The NetWin 200 will be priced from $50,000 to about $135,000 (which is where Celerra pricing starts). EMC and Microsoft also said they would work together to make EMC's proprietary Celerra servers "compatible" with Windows-based NAS devices.
Industry analysts estimate that Windows-based NAS now accounts for 33% to 38% of the total NAS market in terms of units shipped. Alternatives to Windows-based NAS servers include appliances running Linux, FreeBSD, or proprietary operating systems.