EMC releases NAS devices tied to its midrange arrays

FRAMINGHAM (10/03/2003) - EMC Corp. announced this week a pair of network-attached storage (NAS) devices that connect to its midrange Clariion disk arrays for integration with systems on storage-area networks (SAN).

The Hopkinton, Mass.-based company also introduced an entry-level version of its Celerra NS600 NAS file server with a built-in Clariion array. In addition, EMC said all of its NAS products now can support a mix of low-cost ATA and high-end Fibre Channel disk drives. The rollout continues EMC's strategy of targeting the midrange market with hardware that supports high-end functionality, such as support for making point-in-time copies of data.

EMC said the new NS600S file server includes a single data engine and starts at US$114,000 for a model with 1TB of storage capacity. In comparison, it charges $167,000 for a 1TB version of the original NS600 system, which includes two engines. Meanwhile, the NS600GS and NS600G NAS-to-SAN gateway devices both have starting prices of less than $100,000 (see box).

Dave Johnson, director of IT at Chicago-based accounting and auditing firm Grant Thornton Inc., said EMC appears to be trying to fill out its midrange product line.

But Johnson added that he isn't interested in using his five Clariion arrays, which are installed at four regional offices and Grant Thornton's corporate data center, to support file server functions. He said it's far cheaper to use a clustered pair of Hewlett-Packard Co. ProLiant DL580 servers at each of the firm's 51 branch offices nationwide to handle network authentication functions as well as file and print services.

Steve Kenniston, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said EMC's new gateway devices are an attempt to gain a foothold against more established NAS vendors, such as HP and Network Appliance Inc. EMC is "rounding out the whole message in the midtier range," Kenniston said.

EMC said the new support for ATA disk drives will let Celerra users rely on the lower-cost devices for data backup purposes while still using Fibre Channel disks for primary data storage.

In addition, EMC released a low-end NAS device that matches its Clariion CX200 disk array with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Powered NAS software. The NetWin 200 product, which was announced in May, can scale from 500GB to 4.4TB in storage capacity and starts at US$32,000.

The NetWin 200 is the first EMC product that uses Microsoft's NAS software, and it's designed to help IT managers consolidate data backups of low-end Windows servers. "Customers, especially Dell clients who've been waiting to do data management better, have been looking forward to this," Kenniston said.