• United States

EMC’s monster of a machine is out

Jan 31, 20063 mins
Data Center

* EMC's DMX-3 requires as much as 10 cabinets

EMC’s big announcement last week of a high-end array and IP storage products contained no surprises for those of us who track the company, but it was an interesting meeting nonetheless. Here are the key points:

First came the obligatory chest pounding, mostly centered on the fact that EMC has been making its investors very happy of late. The company now lays claim to about 19% of the storage market, and still looks to grow at a rate that is better than the market growth rate. This of course means increased share – EMC’s shooting for 20% this year.

How companies define market share is always open to question, and the specific number any company gives rarely goes unquestioned. That being said however, whatever the number actually is, these are good times in Hopkinton.

When the talk shifted to strategy, it became clear that Information Lifecycle Management (ILM) remains one of the lynchpins of how EMC sees itself going forward. Today however, let’s look at the new hardware.

The major hardware announcement focused on the flagship of the high-end line, the new DMX-3. This was rolled out to analysts several months ago, but now it is live and on the price books. EMC claims this is the biggest storage device available today, capable of storing in excess of a petabyte of information. This is a monster of a machine in terms of both capacity and the amount of floor space it will require. Even though it makes use of the new 500G-byte Fibre Channel drives, it will still require 10 cabinets to max out at the 1-petabyte level.

That’s 10 cabinets, each housing a maximum of 240 drives, plus a system bay – the one cabinet to rule them all.

EMC says the drive bays allow use of both high-end Fibre Channel drives and low-cost Fibre Channel FATA drives – mix-and-match as your needs dictate. This means you have the opportunity to tier the storage within each cabinet, an important point if, like many managers, you are looking to consolidate things.

Note however, that anyone who plugs drives that operate at different spindle speeds into the same backplane (probably better called a “midplane” in these devices) is likely to be making a bad choice. By all means use varying types of drives, but try to populate all bays with drives that operate at the same speed. This way you avoid the danger of different spindle speeds causing enough vibration in a device bay to make you start losing data.

Connectivity is through 2Gbps Fibre Channel, ESCON, 2Gbps FICON, iSCSI and Gigabit Ethernet.

For those of you without several million dollars to invest, there is still good news: The DMX-3 family scales downwards to the point where you can buy a single cabinet (7T-bytes of disk) and then grow as needs require.

Now of course we wait to see what IBM and Hitachi have to say.

Next time, we’ll take another look at EMC’s ILM strategy.