EMC guns for small business storage

Storage giant EMC this week made its first move into the SMB market, with the release of entry-level storage systems to compete with long-time rival NetApp.

The family of VNXe - or VNX "entry" - models are capable of handling up to 120 drives or 240 terabytes of total storage with a SAS backplane capable of 6 gigabits per second (Gbps). The cheapest of the two models is expected to retail at under $USD10,000, a price tag the company claims is the cheapest on the market.

The first version of the product will be Ethernet-only, relegating higher bandwidth fibre-channel interfaces to the simultaneously launched, higher-end VNX family of infrastructure models, which supercede both EMC's CLARiiON and Celerra models. However, unified storage division president, Rich Napolitano, hinted that fibre-channel modules might ultimately become available to VNXe products in coming months.

EMC hopes the use of app-based storage provisioning will encourage users to adopt the new infrastructure systems.

"In reality, what we want to achieve is we want to eliminate storage management," Napolitano said at the Singapore launch of EMC's storage subsystem, part of a wider product launch also held in New York and London.

"What's happened over the last 30 years in our industry is that our customers are less and less aware of their physical infrastructure and more and more aware of the affinity to the applications.

"The way we built storage was our problem."

(See EMC's Innovation and Development Centre in Singapore)

However, the apps included in the Unisphere management tool are currently limited to Microsoft's Exchange and Hyper-V, and VMware servers.

Napolitano, who came to EMC to simplify its roadmap four years ago, told Computerworld Australia the rapid growth of the SMB market prompted the company's entry. Both he and Asia Pacific and Japan president, Steve Leonard, insisted the new product line would not overlap with attempts by the company to promote Cloud migration through cooperative vehicle the Virtual Computing Environment.

"Some percentage of the market will go to a centralised service provider and converged infrastructure," Napolitano said.

"When you look at a segment that's $8-10 billion, and it's growing at 16 or 17 per cent, who cares if it's 10 or 20 per cent? When you look at market, and it's growing so fast, let's go there."

Leonard said the continued growth of small business - against slowing, larger enterprises - was another motivation.

"I think it's going to be lucrative enough for us to continue in that market for years to come," he said. "We're trying to anticipate where the ball is going to go and run there."

NetApp principal technologist, John Martin, said the new EMC VNXe products were simply a copy of its competitor's existing strategy.

"Mimicry is the highest form of flattery," he said in an email.

Neither Leonard or Napolitan were able to confirm whether any Australian businesses had yet ordered the VNXe systems. Channel partners have already been trained to spruik the new systems to their customers, and are already in talks with telcos and other businesses.

James Hutchinson travelled to Singapore as a guest of EMC.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

This story, "EMC guns for small business storage" was originally published by Computerworld Australia.

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