Where Does Midrange End and Enterprise Begin?

There's an increasingly fine line between midrange and high-end storage, with vendors stuffing midrange systems with more and more hardware and software capabilities.

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There's an increasingly fine line between midrange and high-end storage, with vendors stuffing midrange systems with more and more hardware and software capabilities.

Case in point: EMC's Clariion, the CX600. The successor to the FC4700, the CX600 prompted Data Mobility Group founder John Webster to say, "Boy, it's getting harder and harder to figure out what EMC's lead hardware line is. It's still the Symmetrix, obviously, because of all the software goodies, but the Clariion is starting to look more and more like an enterprise contender."

The CX600 delivers full 2Gb FC connectivity, four 2GHz CPUs and 1,300MB/s bandwidth. It also inherits a raft of new software. In addition to existing software (SnapView, MirrorView and Access Logix), the CX600 also runs PowerPath, DB Tuner and EDM software from EMC's Symmetrix line-up. Management is performed using Navisphere, which EMC claims manages all six generations of Clariion boxes.

The CX600 foreshadows a streamlined EMC product line, says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group. "Sooner or later, we expect to see a common set of code that runs across all the [EMC] platforms," - midrange and high end. With the next generation Symmetrix anticipated in Q1 of 2003, it's possible this may happen sooner rather than later.

HP, meanwhile, has dispensed with the notion of midrange and enterprise altogether, organizing its storage along modular (the Enterprise Virtual Array) or monolithic (the XP) lines. "When you consider that the EVA supports up to 240 drives, it's obvious that this is a product that can scale to enterprise levels of capacity," says Pete Korce, enterprise array business manager for HP's Network Storage Solutions group.

And it's not just about capacity - it's also about software functionality. Today, software typically associated with monolithic storage (snapshot, data replication, cloning and management) is available in the EVA, Korce says. Choosing a monolithic rather than modular array seems to be a matter of taste - "some people just feel more comfortable with one big box."

Which begs the question: Does HP see a day when it no longer sells monolithic storage? "We don't see the XP going away right now," says Korce. But, he's not so conclusive about its future - "I can't really forecast that now."

This was first published in October 2002

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