EMC to enter Windows-based NAS market

By Dave Simpson

At its annual Technology Summit user and partner conference this week in Las Vegas, EMC made a number of announcements with far-reaching competitive implications:

--The company announced an extension of its partnership with Microsoft that will lead to EMC's entry into the Windows-based NAS market in the third quarter;
--Taking aim at Veritas, EMC yesterday announced the 4.0 version of its PowerPath software, which most notably includes a volume manager; and
--As expected, EMC announced its intention to resell Cisco's storage switches and directors and to port some of its software to those switches.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and EMC CEO and president Joe Tucci took the stage to discuss the two companies' plans to integrate Windows technologies into EMC NAS platforms, marking EMC's departure from its proprietary approach to NAS (Celerra). EMC will also integrate Windows 2003 APIs into its ControlCenter storage management framework. The APIs encompass Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), Virtual Disk Service (VDS), and Multipath I/O (MPIO).

Chuck Hollis, EMC's vice president of platforms marketing, said that EMC will integrate applications such as ControlCenter, TimeFinder, SRDF, and Enterprise Replication Manager 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 will license Microsoft's Windows Powered NAS 3.0 (the software formerly known as Windows Server Appliance Kit, or SAK), and plans to deliver in the third quarter a NAS appliance targeted at the midrange market. The NetWin 200 will be based on EMC's Clariion CX 200 disk arrays and Intel-based servers (most likely from Dell and Fujitsu Siemens) 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.

EMC + Cisco
As expected, EMC added to Cisco's momentum in the storage market by announcing its intention to resell Cisco's MDS 9000 line of multi-protocol (Fibre Channel, FCIP, and iSCSI) switches and directors. Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, and IBM earlier this year said that they will resell Cisco's storage switches. EMC expects to qualify Cisco's switches as "E-Lab Tested" in May, with production shipments due in May or June. (EMC officials said that the company has been testing Cisco's MDS switches since last September.)

EMC plans to port some of its software to Cisco's switches, although company officials did not provide details on which software (other than PowerPath) will be ported. Last month, EMC announced a similar deal with Brocade to port some of its applications to Brocade's SilkWorm Fabric Application Platform, which Brocade got in its acquisition of Rhapsody Networks.

EMC also announced the 4.0 version of its PowerPath software, which includes a volume manager that is expected to compete with market leader Veritas' Volume Manager. For details on PowerPath 4.0 and EMC's volume manager, stay tuned to next week's newsletter: We'll be reporting from the Veritas Vision conference in Las Vegas.

This article was originally published on April 30, 2003