Storage giants tap a rich seam

Midrange... it's the new black...
Written by Ian Fried, Contributor

Midrange... it's the new black...

A trio of storage giants are unveiling new midrange gear this week, aiming to take advantage of a segment that is enjoying stronger growth than the overall market. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun all plan to introduce new gear, all of which competes at least in part with EMC's Clariion line, which is also resold by Dell. All the products are shooting for the midrange of the storage market. HP and IBM are introducing lower-end versions of existing products. HP is unveiling the StorageWorks EVA 3000, which offers many of the features of its existing EVA product, but has a lower total capacity as well as a lower price tag. IBM on Tuesday is introducing a new low-end product in its FastT line of gear that the company said boosts performance threefold over its predecessor. Meanwhile, Sun is expected on Tuesday to update its midrange storage products with models that deliver higher performance and capacity. The interest in the midrange stems, in part, from the fact that it is still enjoying growth in the high single digits, while higher-end gear is growing only in the low single digits, said Roland Hagan, vice president of storage marketing, IBM Systems Group. Pete Korce, director of HP's enterprise storage array business, attributes some of that strength to the fact that features once found only on high-end boxes are now finding their way into midrange gear. At the same time, customers are increasingly focusing on costs. He said: "For many customers the modular arrays will meet their budget and their performance needs." IBM is introducing the IBM FastT 600, a speedier low-end version of IBM's midrange line, gear made for IBM by LSI Logic. IBM is positioning the machine against EMC's CX 200 model, saying its product offers 40 per cent better performance at a lower cost, in some configurations. IBM also said it can offer a higher total capacity - six terabytes as compared with 4.4 terabytes for EMC. The FastT 600 will be available on 15 April, IBM said. With the move, IBM said it has completed this year's makeover of its midrange line-up. The company introduced a higher-end model, the FastT 900, in February. IBM said its new midrange products are most likely to appeal to the approximately 400,000 businesses that have between 100 and 1,000 employees. HP, for its part, is aiming the StorageWorks EVA 3000 at the EMC CX400, adding an option for customers who don't need all of the capacity HP offers with its existing EVA product, which it is renaming the EVA 5000. The new product will range in price from $63,000 to $150,000 (about £40,000 to £96,000) for larger configurations, while the EVA 5000 starts at $85,000 and can fetch as much as $1m depending on the configuration. For its part, EMC said the company is still seeing strong sales of its Clariion products. A spokesman for EMC said: "Clariion momentum continues to build offering customers a clear upgrade path, robust software functionality and a broad distribution network. It will be hard to match what Clariion offers customers today."
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