In my previous post, I discussed the reasons why EMC needed to spent a little more quality time with the SMB market at large. Today, in the course of several back-to-back design calls with various level SMB customers, I was struck by a couple of things.
a.) The Clariion AX4-5, while more of a “baby” Clariion amongst its more “mature” CX3 bretheren, offers something that the other arrays currently don’t: Tiered storage within the same drive tray (i.e. SAS and SATA in the same tray). Why is this important, you say? For one, I can now design tiered storage within the same tray, adding value to a customer who previously had to invest in two discrete trays of disk, one for fibre and one for SATA. Simply put, utilize 750GB/1TB drives for the 3+1 vault R5 group, toss in a good 3+1 R5 based on 10k or 15k SAS for a good baseline performance group, and then mix/match other drives to taste. You’ve got 12 slots (wish it was 15) to play around with and, it just works.
b.) You really have a harder time positioning the CX3-10 and NS-2x series because of it. Yes, the NS-22 offers the most versatility, especially with fibre and IP connectivity in the same box, but, again, with all 3 arrays (AX4-5, CX3-10, NS-22) offering 60 drive max with the same performance and storage capabilities, you need to set the table a little more carefully. Obviously, segmenting the AX4-5 into two product variants (iSCSI and fibre) leads to more “purpose built” environment installations as you only can use one or the other. The CX3-10 offers both fibre and iSCSI in the combo model and the NS-22 takes it up another notch by offering FTP, HTTP, CIFS, NFS, iSCSI, and fibre in the same box.
c.) Everyone should be selling the full version of Navisphere Manager with the AX4-5. Honestly, there’s really no reason not to as it does allow for a bit more feature functionality within the box. As a matter of fact, none of my array designs will leave EMC’s dock without it installed. 😉 You’re not missing much with Navi Express, but, once your business grows and you move to commercial Clariion units (CX3-20 and up), you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
d.) Replication, while not as “complete” as the CX3-10 and NS-22 offerings, still covers a majority of the bases required by customers. Mirrorview, Sancopy (important especially with Replication Manager usage w/SQL, Exchange), and Replistor make a compelling entry level replication solution that most multi-site SMB IT shops should be able to afford. Listen, I’m not the money guy so my anticipation of “affordability” might be scoffed at by the market at large, but seriously…finance it. 😉
All in all, the AX4-5 is a powerful offering for SMB and I look forward to bringing more awareness to it in the days ahead.