EMC refreshes product line

Insignia brand aimed at SMBs

By Kevin Komiega and Ann Silverthorn

Last month, EMC introduced a line of hardware and software products aimed at meeting the storage requirements of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Dubbed “Insignia,” the new line primarily comprises existing products that have been tweaked to fit lower price points required by SMBs.

The Insignia line is anchored on the hardware side by the Clariion AX100 disk array with Fibre Channel or iSCSI connectivity options and up to 12 Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives for 750GB to 6TB of capacity. The software components of Insignia include SMB editions of EMC’s Storage Administrator for Exchange, Retrospect for backup and recovery, RepliStor for data replication, VisualSRM storage resource management (SRM) software, and eRoom collaboration software.

Larry Zulch, EMC vice president and general manager (and former CEO and co-founder of Dantz Development, which EMC acquired in 2004), has been tasked with managing the Insignia business.

“Sometimes developing the SMB Editions meant removing a feature or capability that is not necessary for small and medium-sized customers, and other times we added functionality to existing products,” says Zulch.

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The definition of an SMB varies from vendor to vendor. Some companies classify SMBs by the number of employees, amount of storage, or by annual revenues. EMC uses the revenue model, defining an SMB as having annual revenues ranging from $1 million to $25 million.

The Clariion AX100/I and Storage Administrator for Exchange SMB Edition are priced from $5,500 and $1,995, respectively, and the RepliStor SMB Edition is priced from $995 per node. Starting cost for the VisualSRM SMB Edition is $995, eRoom SMB Edition, $995 for 10 users, and Retrospect, $399.

EMC also launched a program called EMC Velocity SMB, which is designed to train, support, and recruit SMB channel partners. EMC claims to have signed up more than 75 new channel partners that will sell and support the Insignia line.

The Insignia launch came on the heels of EMC’s introduction of a slew of hardware and software products last month. For example, EMC made capacity enhancements to its Symmetrix DMX-3 disk array and introduced new file system software and NAS virtualization capabilities. Through these enhancements, the company intends to extend information lifecycle management (ILM) benefits to more applications and extend IP storage into enterprise environments.

EMC scaled the Symmetrix DMX-3 disk array, first introduced in July 2005, both up and down. DMX-3 can now scale up to more than one petabyte using 2,400 disk drives, including 500GB Fibre Channel drives. The array can scale down to as few as 96 drives, while still allowing users to non-disruptively upgrade to 2,400 drives. A single DMX-3 can handle mission-critical data as tier one, business-critical data as tier two, and archive data as tier three. RAID levels can be customized for each tier.

Citing IP storage’s low cost, simple deployment, and the ability to leverage existing investments and span outside the data center, EMC plans to take IP storage into the enterprise with a number of other products announced last month.

New IP storage file system software, Multi Path File System for iSCSI (MPFSi), bypasses the NAS file server and protocols, improving on traditional single-path NAS file serving. Using standard NAS with the low-overhead iSCSI protocol, MPFSi sends blocks of data over an IP network. EMC believes MPFSi will improve performance by as much as 4x.

MPFSi also provides iSCSI-based remote replication and IP storage provisioning to EMC’s Celerra NAS systems. EMC’s virtual provisioning offers automated monitoring and extension of storage, by storage class, to improve on basic thin provisioning.

Regarding EMC’s interest in IP storage and its potential impact on Fibre Channel, Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis at EMC, says, “Having the flexibility to employ Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS is key. EMC’s message is that customers can deploy any or all of those technologies. One of the largest universities in the country deployed an extensive storage network with Fibre Channel and NAS. The university has now introduced iSCSI and is optimizing all three technologies for different service levels, yet it looks like one big network.”

EMC also unveiled advanced retention management software for its Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) platform. The new features enable authorized users to identify and extend retention periods for specific records or objects in a Centera archive. Event-based Retention and Litigation Hold features were added to the Centera Governance Edition and Compliance Edition Plus. Enhanced security features allow users to create management profiles that determine who can have access to specific data.

New features were also introduced for EMC’s Rainfinity Global File Virtualization platform. For example, Global Namespace Management provides a unified view of the files and file systems on heterogeneous file servers and NAS devices.

This article was originally published on March 01, 2006