IBM, HP Lock In on EMC in Battle for the Mid-Range

A week after Dell began worldwide manufacturing of its Dell/EMC CX200 storage systems, IBM has rolled out a competing model that Big Blue claims is cheaper and offers 40% better performance. At the same time, HP has announced plans to unveil a competitor to EMC’s CLARiiON
CX400 at the Storage Networking World conference next week.

HP, IBM, and EMC — the top
storage vendors — are increasingly competing for additional market share in the mid-range as high-end sales stall. IBM predicts “medium-sized businesses will account for approximately $150 billion of IT spending globally in the next few years.”

Big Blue states it is introducing “a new entry-level storage server that is more scalable yet costs less than a similarly configured competing product from EMC.”

At a starting price of $14,995, the IBM TotalStorage FAStT600 provides three times the I/O performance and throughput of the previous FAStT200
model, according to IBM.

Coupled with a new Express version of its Tivoli Storage Resource Manager software, IBM asserts “these solutions offer medium businesses running
Linux, Windows, and UNIX applications an enterprise-like capability for managing heterogeneous storage networks at an affordable cost.”

The Tivoli SRM Express Edition, priced at $65 per desktop, is designed to deliver comprehensive storage resource monitoring and planning tools
for heterogeneous storage environments, according to IBM.

Autonomic (self-healing) functions in the FAStT600 include Dynamic Capacity Addition, which allows unused storage to be brought online without stopping operations, and FAStT Service Alert, which can automatically alert IBM if a problem occurs.

“Cost and ease of use are the two key concerns for medium-sized businesses,” says Roland Hagan, vice president of storage marketing for the IBM Systems Group. “IBM is delivering a set of storage networking solutions designed and priced for these customers, while providing high-performance technology needed for today’s on-demand networked storage environment.”

The FAStT600 includes 2 Gbps Fibre Channel and can scale up to six terabytes for storage networks. It will be generally available April 15.

IBM has also announced 16 additions to the IBM TotalStorage Proven program, which helps identify storage solutions and configurations for customers
that have been pre-tested for interoperability. One of the latest companies to complete the program is NuGenesis Technologies Corp., which provides scientific data management solutions.

HP to Unveil Mid-Market Offering

HP will announce next week expanded StorageWorks offerings that the company says will deliver enterprise-class functionality to the mid-range market.

HP will broaden its StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array (EVA) family with the introduction of HP StorageWorks EVA3000. The company is also increasing the capacity and performance of its mid-range HP StorageWorks msl6000 and enterprise-class esl9000 tape libraries with HP StorageWorks Ultrium 460 tape drives, and bolstering its array capabilities with new software support.

The new offerings are part of HP’s ENSAextended strategy for delivering controllable, resilient, and extensible storage. The StorageWorks EVA3000 and StorageWorks msl6000 tape libraries “enable mid-range customers to build adaptive infrastructures for storage that increase responsiveness to business and IT changes,” states HP.

The StorageWorks EVA3000 allows for greater use of storage assets than traditional arrays through space-saving vSnaps and Snapclones, and delivers 162,000 I/Os per second, “up to twice the performance of competitive offerings,” according to HP. Virtual-management capabilities reduce the time required to manage data, and the system scales up to 56 disk drives or 8.2 TB.

Pricing for entry-level configurations of the EVA3000 will start at $63,000 (MSRP).

Analyst Gives HP Top Marks

Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, believes the IBM and HP offerings “are excellent competitors to CLARiiON — IBM at a
somewhat lower range and HP at the higher. Price-performance is the key in the mid-range, however, so that is going to be the calculation that counts.”

The HP EVA3000 is an “excellent mid-range product and a good upgrade path from the older HP boxes,” continues Karp. “Particularly useful is that the
EVA3000 itself can easily be upgraded to the EVA5000 without having to resort to a ‘forklift’ upgrade, so there is plenty of room to grow.” Karp says the HP product also claims a “two times IOPS advantage over the EMC400 and has greater capacity than either the IBM or EMC products.”

EMC, for its part, isn’t sounding too flustered by all the competition.

“CLARiiON momentum continues to build with a complete compatible family, a clear upgrade path, robust software functionality, and a broad distribution network,” said EMC spokesman Justin Bartinoski. “It will be hard to match what CLARiiON offers customers today.”

With this pitched battle for the mid-market, it should be an exciting year to watch the top vendors compete for bragging rights.

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