EMC, Netapp Plan Switcheroo - 3

EMC stoops for the midrange, while NetApp stretches for the high end.

Noel Levasseur needed more storage. Heres the punch line: Having difficulty running his EMC arrays, Levasseur turned to, of all vendors, Network Appliance.

Over the last two years, Levasseur, executive vice president of First American Bank, in Elk Grove, Ill., has grown his NetApp arrays, moving off his EMC equipment, thanks, in part, to the functionality of NetApps OnTap operating system platform and the companys storage portfolios ability to seamlessly scale throughout its line.

Such success in the high end—a space relatively unfamiliar to NetApp—is a scenario NetApp CEO Daniel Warmenhoven says he hopes will repeat itself as the Sunnyvale, Calif., company makes a push into a market level dominated by EMC.

In turn, EMC is redoubling its efforts in the midrange, planning to introduce a new architecture and a host of new storage offerings the week of May 8.

"EMC thinks theyre going to break away from the pack, and guess what? Were hitting the accelerator at the same time," Warmenhoven said. "When customers are looking at [storage system] specifications, size matters. If were going to break out of the midrange perception, it was incumbent on us to put out a system comparable in capacity and throughputs."

Levasseur said he believes NetApp can be successful. "We really brought a small NetApp footprint in, and it grew from there," said Levasseur, whose data has doubled in the last three years. "I think [NetApp] can easily run in this. They made a believer out of me."

Placing its bets in high-end storage offerings, NetApp on May 8 is unveiling its FAS6030 and FAS6070 series. The boxes are designed to play in the same sandbox with the heaviest hitters of storage capacity and performance, such as Hitachi Data Systems Thunder and Lightning products and EMCs high-end DMX line, Warmenhoven said.

EMC is targeting a midrange push by unveiling its new Clariion UltraScale CX3 architecture and CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80 tiered storage-oriented offerings.

Having successfully established its reputation with customers in the low-cost NAS (network-attached storage), iSCSI and SAN (storage area network) arena, NetApp is ready to ditch its midrange-only tag. Taking on EMC is core to the plan.

Currently available, the new modular FAS6030 and FAS6070 storage systems scale up to 500TB of capacity. The boxes are suited for large-scale storage consolidation efforts, as well as support of massive SAN- and NAS-centric enterprise application deployments.

Via new FlexShare software, the FAS6000 series hardware can maintain workload performance and allow administrators to either set or change data set prioritization on the fly.

Augmenting its systems management portfolio to enable better use of storage assets, NetApp will roll out a beefed-up version of its NetApp Management Software. The enhanced tools allow individual database, server, messaging and application administrators to provision their own storage pools and manage their own data sets.

In addition, NetApp is extending its FC (Fibre Channel) SAN provisioning capabilities to support 4G-bps throughput and contend with evolving data center needs through tighter director, switch and host bus adapter connectivity.

Warmenhoven said services are key to helping NetApp breach the upper echelon. "Theres a certain category of customers who have been reluctant to adopt NetApp for Tier 1 environments because of a misperception of scalability. For some reason, they double-clutch—they want breadth of services, and they want to go after cost," he said.

NetApp is introducing its new Rapid Deployment Services for Storage Implementation offering. The service begins with infrastructure assessment and discovery; understands what a customer is trying to achieve in terms of storage; and then carries on through a deployment, configuration and optimization phase.

For its part, EMCs new UltraScale CX3 series is built to help customers consolidate multiple storage tiers onto a single array while mixing disk drive types.

Available now and featuring 45 pending patents, the architecture offers full end-to-end 4G-bps FC technology and offers double the performance and capacity of its Clariion predecessor, said EMC officials in Hopkinton, Mass.

The companys new midrange CX boxes can scale up to 480 drives or 239TB and can simultaneously support high-speed 2G-bps and 4G-bps FC disk drives and 2G-bps low-cost FC drives in a single box.

The Clariion UltraScale line allows for simplified storage management by letting customers replace disk drives, power supplies, cooling fans and small-form-factor pluggable optical transceivers without outside help.

Going Up, Going Down
NetApp and EMC head in different directions:
NetApp catapults into high end
* FAS6030 (840 disk drives)
* FAS6070 (1,008 disk drives)
* Enhanced NetApp
* New Professional Services
EMC refocuses midrange push
* New Clariion UltraScale CX3 series: CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80
* 4G-bps support end to end
* Scales up to 480 drives or 239TB

Source: eWEEK reporting