Behind the Firewall 4

EMC's billion-dollar spending spree ... Acopia Networks is the talk of the town ... NearStore R150 has disappeared ... Replicus is no more ... Quantum's disk-based backup postponed.

EMC continues to make noise. Its acquisition of VMware caps off a $3.6 billion spending spree on software companies....

On the hardware front, product shipments are steadily rising and they don't seem to be able to build enough DMX systems. Some changes to the product may be forthcoming this month, though, as some customers are hearing that EMC will be switching from Parity RAID to RAID-5 as the preferred layout for customers who don't want to pay for mirroring and don't need that level of performance. So far, EMC is not commenting, other than to say they'll continue to support their current Parity RAID implementation.


With native iSCSI tape libraries on the horizon, rumor has it that backup software vendors are rethinking their pricing models. By putting the tape library directly on the iSCSI network, the thinking goes, IT shops will be able to back servers up directly, circumventing the central media server. But it's unlikely that they'll be willing to pay full media server prices for every server that needs to be backed up.

Speaking of VMWare, the new EMC subsidiary will report to David Goulden, VP of marketing, while other recent acquisitions Legato and Documentum are divisions reporting to Joe Tucci. As for the puzzlingly high price EMC paid, it seems that EMC wasn't VMware's only suitor and that VMware didn't really want to sell. Together, those two factors probably had a lot to do with why VMware was able to snag an astonishing $635 million in cash.

Waiting for your NearStore R150? Well, don't hold your breath--NetApp has discontinued it. The ATA-to-SCSI shelves in the R150 are no longer being made. The surprisingly quick (for NetApp) life cycle for the product forced NetApp to accelerate development of the R200, which uses an ATA-to-Fibre Channel shelf. Director of product marketing Chris Bennett says that some users who ordered R150s will get the R200. It's bigger and less expensive, but some users waited for the R150 because it was more mature than the original NearStore R100 and now have to accept the first model of a new architecture with the R200.

Some EMC users are tweaked over the migration process from older versions of Symmetrix to Symm DMX. If you have a fourth generation Symm or older, it won't talk to Symm 6. Maybe that's why IBM is using its new Piper migration appliance with attack teams to go after EMC users. They did this before in the early '90s and had some success, but then product shortfalls killed the effort.

Expect QLogic and Emulex to keep host bus adapter (HBA) prices high until someone forces their hand. They "compete" with each other on paper, but both understand the importance of keeping prices high for as long as possible. It will take a big OEM to do a big deal with the likes of JNI (AMCC) to upset the applecart. Or will it? We're hearing from some sources that HBA prices to disk array OEMs are around $300 or less, meaning that users paying $1,000+ for them are simply lining disk array vendors' pockets.

Startup Acopia Networks has shown up recently in conversations with very large Wall Street firms. Seems the Lowell, MA startup has gone from zero to 60 in no time flat on the buzz meter.

Quantum's disk-based backup plans seem to have run into a snag. Their next-generation product, which would take them beyond just virtual tape technology, has hit design snags and been postponed.

Former Veritas CTO Paul Borrill's new gig--Replicus--has apparently shut down already. It appears they couldn't raise money.

Behind the Firewall is written by a team of industry insiders who, for obvious reasons, prefer to remain anonymous. If you have tips, send them to
This was last published in January 2004

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