Fibre

Search Term Tuesday – May 26th Edition

by Dave Graham on May 27, 2008


This is the second edition of the same post. Evidently, WordPress doesn’t like it when I fat-finger in Firefox 3.0 Beta 5. Grrrrr…..

So, what is “Search Term Tuesday” (or any other day of the week, even)? The principle of it is this: grab some of the focused searches out there that land on this site (i.e Flickerdown) and attempt to respond to them with more data. Deal? Let’s begin, then.

[click to continue…]

Share

{ 0 comments }

Why the AX4-5 matters….

by Dave Graham on April 25, 2008


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.

cheers,

Dave

Seed Newsvine
Add to Technorati Favorites

Share

{ 0 comments }

I *heart* SMB

by Dave Graham on April 24, 2008


I Love SMB
There’s somewhat of a misconception that EMC dislikes the SMB market. While it’s true that we’ve largely ignored it, our partners in the channel (Dell, CDW, to name a few) have successfully brought our Clariion lines to the mid-level companies out there and have solved their storage needs through aggressive cost-cutting, etc. All that was well and good, but, still, there was a general sense that we were ignoring the small guys out there who had explosive growth potential for storage and revenue and who wouldn’t be able to buy in to commercial grade arrays. Enter the Clariion AX4-5 line.

In my current role, I work almost exclusively with customers who are either new to EMC or who have admired from afar our capabilities for the commercial market. They’ve perhaps been exposed to EMC through co-branding and software bundling in external hard drive technologies, smaller ASN partners that are localized by geography, or, through a channel source like CDW. Truthfully, the greatest “capture” of these customers has been through the channel and partners who have spent the time on developing relationships with their customers versus the standard “Hey, buy my product…” One of the greatest challenges then, is for EMC to step in to the ring and actually become more “friendly” or approachable with our product and personnel.

I have been critical of the Iomega acquisition in the past based on what I felt were misappropriated metrics (namely, “buying” our way into the SMB channel using stale products versus innovative new products). The Iomega name, which was once an entity noted for innovation, has diluted to nothing notable in the channel. Companies like Enhance Technology, Buffalo, etc. which continue to innovate in the SMB space have experienced great growth because they’ve continued to innovate and make their technology approachable to the masses. That being said, here’s what I see EMC doing in the SMB space.

Intel or Iomega?
It’s no secret that EMC has a special place in their heart for Intel. Our arrays (with the exception of the Symmetrix) are built around their processors, we are firmly esconced in the Win-Tel alliance with Microsoft and, well, you know the rest. We started our SMB push with rebranding Intel 4200-E units and coupled them with EMC’s Lifeline (or is it Fortress?) software. While the 4200-E is a great box, I personally viewed the “Baxter Creek” 4000-E with a little more favour since it allowed for NFS, CIFS within the same box. The 4200-E has media functions, disk protection, etc. but it is truly the software that makes the box anything special. As I’m no expert regarding the software, I’ll defer to that product team for guidance. In any case, with the Iomega acquisition, Intel will need to be relegated to a smaller portion of the EMC market to allow for Iomega to gain some traction with SMB.

Iomega brings a much needed “middle ground” that the Intel boxes cannot cover. You’re looking at budgetary allocations between $1,000.00 to the top end of around $15,000.00 based on features and pricing. Now, I don’t know exactly what they’ll be changing or re-aligning (and one has to hope they’re going to stop this ridiculous whitebox rebranding stuff they’re doing now….) but chances are we’ll see DAS and NAS offerings that will allow for SMBs to start consolidating their storage. At risk is virtualization support and integration, but honestly, most of the offerings in that market have a buy-in around $6,000.00+ (based on the product, no less), so, it could be considered part of a larger spend for that company. In any case, I’d expect EMC branded software (Lifeline?) to appear in the boxes with some level of larger integration with our Core offerings. *shrug*

Iomega or EMC Core?

In the notes above, I’ve laid out how Iomega and Intel will be at odds with each other within the same market space (very briefly). In this section, I’d like to examine potential intersection points with Iomega and EMC Core products (Clariion, Celerra).

The Clariion AX4-5 units have been positioned as near-line SMB/Commercial storage arrays. By near-line, I’m simply referring to their ability to straddle both SMB and Commercial, not necessarily their data storage/retrieval capabilities (though, to be honest, the AX4-5 is a GREAT box to have). With our partners, you can get ready-made AX4-5 units starting around $9,000.00 (minimum config, to be honest) and scale into full featured SAS/SATA powered SAN storage for (obviously) more than that. A lot of the configs that I’ve worked on have hit the sweet spot for AX4-5 entry (with typical app integration with VMWare and SQL, for example) hitting around $35,000.00 all in. That’s not a bad place to start, especially since you get enterprise grade SAS and SATA drives that we’ve tested the living stuffing out of. ;) Same applies for the EMC Celerra NS-2x line. I’ve worked with configs that will slap high IOP fibre drives and long term storage SATA drives within the same array for around 15% more than the AX4-5s. Again, this is optimized by the environments that I’m scoping out and, in most cases, this represents the best fit for performance and capacity. How is Iomega going to fair in that world? I’m not sure.

Nothing that Iomega has put forth so far really strikes anyone with any sort of wow-factor or “I must have it NOW.” For example, the high end 450R is simple a 4 drive server that has two GigE ports on the backend. For small shops, this may be worth it, but, again, the Intel “Baxter Creek” 4000-E does the same thing for about $4,000.00 less, fully configured. Now, you can’t really compare it against an AX4-5, to be sure, but, even a single SP AX4-5 is going to start you out around $4,000.00 above the 450R with better management. Put this into a financing or leasing model and….well, you’ll make out like a bandit. Truth be told, I’m assured that new products with new innovation will be coming down the road so, I’ll reserve my final judgment for that period of time, however, the clock is ticking.

Time to innovate…

EMC has the resources and ability to create new and exciting product at a price any SMB can afford. What they cannot afford to do is miss this opportunity. They’re counting on Iomega’s reputation and channel presence more than anything to drive their business home to the millions of SMB customers out there. The problem is, reputation and presence only go so far. There has to be better products brought to the table or else, competition will undercut and drive us out. We can’t rest on our laurels as a storage entity (truth be told, EMC isn’t well known in the SMB space at all…) because SMB doesn’t care. What matters the most is that they feel protected in their growth, from a storage AND business perspective. A misplaced investment on yesterday’s technology can destroy the confidence and ability to grow of ANY business, but is particularly pertinent in SMB.

SMB drives innovation; it breathes it out with every swell of its ranks. It is the cornerstone of tomorrow’s Commercial accounts and if we screw it up with SMB now, we’re going to have a hard time taking that ill taste from their mouths at the commercial level.

cheers,

Dave

Seed Newsvine
Add to Technorati Favorites

Share

{ 0 comments }

More on Seagate vs. STEC

April 15, 2008

EDIT:  4/15/08 @ 827pm EST
After careful consideration, it has become apparent to me that putting myself in jeopardy of commenting on active litigation that (potentially) involves my employer isn’t a smart thing to do. That being said, I’ve decided to leave this content here, but with the following disclaimer:

The opinions expressed here are my personal [...]

Share
<br />

Centera vs. Symmetrix? (and the SAS vs. Fibre challenge)

April 1, 2008

Obviously, I do actively read and/or manage my blog. To that end, one of the nifty little features of WordPress (and undoubtedly other blogging sites) is the ability to “see” what search terms people are using to land on your blog posts. One of the most fascinating searches had to do with the [...]

Share
<br />