BY HEIDI BIGGAR
With the introduction of its fifth-generation Clariion disk array-the FC4700-last month, EMC claims to have raised the bar for midrange storage. Analysts expect the move to improve EMC's overall competitive position in midrange server markets against rivals such as Compaq and Hitachi Data Systems.
John Webster, a senior analyst with Illuminata, a research and consulting firm in Nashua, NH, says growing the Clariion base is an integral part of EMC's $12 billion revenue goal for 2001. Sales of Clariion products and services accounted for 7%, or $592 million, of EMC's total revenue last year, according to Needham & Company, a financial investment firm in New York. Clariion sales were up 87% over the previous year.
While analysts agree that the Symmetrix and Clariion families continue to play in different markets-determined largely by capacity, functionality, and pricing-they say EMC has begun to migrate Symmetrix features into the Clariion line with the introduction of the FC4700.
"This gives EMC a choice of platforms that they didn't have before and may put traditional Symmetrix customers more in line for Clariion than Symmetrix," says Webster.
"It'll be interesting to see what type of balance they strike between the two families," says Richard Kugele, an analyst with Needham & Company.
The FC4700 offers significant performance, manageability, availability, and connectivity improvements over the FC4500, which was announced last April. Specifically, EMC has doubled system bandwidth to 400MBps and the I/O rate to 50,000 cached I/Os per second. To accomplish this, EMC added multiple high-performance storage processors, 2GB of cache memory, four front-end and four back-end Fibre Channel ports, and redundant paths on each storage processor.
New software functionality includes support for parallel access to production information (via SnapView), remote disaster recovery (MirrorView), centralized management (Navisphere Manager), and non-disruptive software upgrades.
Designed to be used in storage area networks (SANs), the FC4700 can also be adapted to network-attached storage (NAS) environments. Aptly code-named Cham-eleon, the FC4700 converts into a NAS device through a board change. "The FC4700 is the second color in the 4700 line, the IP4700 being the first," says Jim Rothnie, EMC's chief technology officer. The company announced the IP4700 NAS device in December.
The FC4700 is available in a rack-mount configuration and can be configured with 10 to 100 18GB, 36GB, or 73GB drives for up to 7.3TB of capacity. Pricing starts at $72,000.