MTI challenges EMC with mirroring software
MTI Technology recently began shipping its Business Critical Remote Mirroring (BCRM) software, aiming to loosen EMC`s grip on the enterprise remote-mirroring software market. MTI officials tout the software`s more "open" architecture and significantly lower price tag, compared to EMC`s Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF).
Offering remote-mirroring fault tolerance for its Gladiator line and other storage servers, MTI`s BCRM is designed to leverage standard data transfer protocols by using Fibre Channel rather than ESCON connectivity.
"With EMC`s solution, you have to buy a Symmetrix [storage server] for, say, a quarter-million dollars for your local site. For your remote site, you need to buy another Symmetrix and SRDF software for around $100,000 [SRDF pricing generally ranges from $60,000 to $150,000]. That`s $600,000, which is cost prohibitive for most users," says Kevin Liebl, MTI`s vice president of marketing. In contrast, pricing for MTI`s BCRM starts at $40,000.
"Since we use an open architecture and industry-standard protocols, we don`t force you to buy our storage on the remote side," says Liebl, "There are benefits in buying our storage, but you can utilize your existing storage, so we`re not locking you into a particular architecture."
Doug Fierro, product marketing manager at EMC, acknowledges that EMC`s mirroring solution can only be coupled with the company`s Symmetrix servers, but refutes the notion that SRDF is a completely closed solution. "Our solution has connectivity to just about every major enterprise server our customers could possibly have," says Fierro, "and that includes mainframe, Unix, NT, VMS, AS/400, you name it. SRDF supports those simultaneously. So, in terms of openness, our solution is more open than what MTI is providing today."
Analysts see MTI`s entry into the enterprise remote-mirroring market as a positive development for storage integrators and users, who now have the luxury of choosing implementations. "This is a good example of a company looking to catch up with EMC`s strong command of the market," says Sean Derrington, an analyst with the Meta Group consulting firm in Stamford, CT, "and I wouldn`t characterize this as low-end versus high-end."
BCRM is based on host-based shadowing software and fiber-optic extenders to link a main host to a nearby or remote Gladiator storage array. The extenders convert SCSI and Ultra-SCSI connections to the Fibre Channel link. With Fibre Channel, users can place their remote storage for disaster recovery up to 15 kilometers from their main data center.
BCRM offers additional features that officials say will help lower the high cost of remote mirroring. For example, mirroring can be controlled from a host application server. In addition, users can control whether they want synchronous or asynchronous mirroring.