Intel to sell entry-level EMC arrays

By Kevin Komiega

EMC and Intel joined forces last month at the Storage Networking World conference to surprise the crowd with the announcement of a new OEM partnership under which Intel will sell a line of entry-level storage arrays based on EMC’s recently launched series of Clariion AX150 storage systems.

As part of the multi-year deal, Intel will market and sell a version of the AX150, called the Intel SSR212PP Storage System, to its huge roster of more than 160,000 resellers and distributors worldwide. The Intel storage array will be exactly like the AX150 with the exception of exterior cosmetic changes that will allow Intel resellers to put their own logo on the box.

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EMC inked the deal based, in part, on the strength of Intel’s partner network in the Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, and South America regions.

“More than half of Intel’s resellers are outside of the US. EMC knows how to reach US resellers. This is about emerging markets overseas,” says Hans Geyer, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Storage Group.

But Intel didn’t agree to OEM storage arrays just to stuff its coffers with cash. Another part of the deal hinges on the co-development of new storage processors. EMC has promised to help Intel “enhance” its storage architectures and identify future market requirements.

“New silicon shows up in storage before it does in servers” says Intel’s Geyer. This partnership will help expand our product offerings into storage and help define future CPUs and chipsets for storage to help us provide better servers.”

EMC unveiled the AX150 and AX150i networked storage systems last month with an eye on the small to medium-sized business (SMB) and branch office markets.

The AX150 has Fibre Channel host connectivity, while the AX150i supports iSCSI connectivity. Both models are based on EMC’s Clariion RAID architecture, support up to 10 host servers, scale from 750GB to 6TB of capacity, and can be installed by customers.

EMC has added support for up to eight concurrent array-based snapshots for backup-and-recovery purposes, a dual-controller option, and redundant power supplies to the AX150, as well as support for Serial ATA (SATA) II disk drives and an iSCSI Installation Wizard.

Intel’s version will be available from some of its participating channel partners worldwide this month. The Intel SSR212PP will feature up to 12 SATA II disk drives in a 2U rack-mountable enclosure.

Intel has not released pricing details for its version of the system, but EMC-branded AX150 systems are available now through EMC and partners such as Dell and Tech Data with pricing expected to start at about $5,600.

The EMC-Intel OEM deal caused some industry analysts to question the health of EMC’s five-year-old relationship with Dell.

Dell currently sells co-branded versions of various EMC Clariion products as part of a deal that runs through December 2008. But, not surprisingly, EMC says its relationship with Dell has never been better.

“EMC believes this relationship with Intel is complementary to the one we have with Dell. There is an opportunity for Intel, EMC, and Dell to play in this market,” says Mitch Breen, senior vice president of global channel sales and marketing at EMC.

“There’s no question that the market is big enough for both Dell and Intel. There is very little overlap in the SMB space between these two players,” explains Tony Prigmore, senior analyst and managing partner at the Enterprise Strategy Group research and consulting firm.

Prigmore believes end users are predisposed to buying one brand or the other, especially in the markets where Intel is going to focus with the EMC products.

“All parties involved understand this reality and, for this reason, we see no impact to the existing Dell-EMC relationship, which has had positive financial results for both sides,” says Prigmore.

EMC’s AX150 is a cornerstone of its Insignia line of hardware and software products for SMBs. The Insignia family, announced in February, comprises existing EMC products that have been engineered to fit lower price points required by SMBs and includes the Clariion AX systems, EMC’s Storage Administrator for management of Microsoft Exchange Server data, Retrospect for backup and recovery, RepliStor for data replication, VisualSRM storage resource management (SRM) software, and eRoom collaboration software.

Intel customers that want to buy more software than is included with the AX150 system will “have access” to EMC’s software portfolio, but not through Intel, according to EMC’s Breen.

This article was originally published on May 01, 2006