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EMC buoys mainframe Symmetrix offering

Mainframe users have some new storage options from EMC. The company made some upgrades to its Symmetrix 8000 storage systems on Friday. EMC is also offering a pair of new Symmetrix models designed for mainframe environments.

Storage maker EMC Corp. temporarily quelled concerns among mainframe users Friday by announcing a series of upgrades and the repackaging of its Symmetrix 8000 series storage arrays.

The Hopkinton, Mass., company added 146 GB hard drives and native Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for remote data replication to the Symmetrix 8000. EMC also pulled back the curtain on the Symmetrix z8000 series of storage systems, a prepackaged offering optimized for FICON and ESCON connectivity in mainframe environments, the company said.

David Donatelli, EMC's executive vice president of storage platforms operations, said the announcement underscores EMC's commitment to the mainframe market by offering a range of solutions from the Symmetrix z8000 series to the Symmetrix DMX systems.

The Symmetrix z8000 systems come packaged with preconfigured amounts of storage, host connectivity and global cache, as well as EMC's Enginuity storage operating environment with mainframe enhancements. The Symmetrix z8000 systems can also be upgraded for simultaneous open systems support, according to EMC.

Users can choose from preconfigured hardware models, base-level capacities, global cache, and support for IBM's 1Gbps FICON channel connectivity option or legacy ESCON connections.

EMC's competition took stabs at its commitment to the mainframe market last month when the company debuted the latest generation Symmetrix products, the DMX series. Many said EMC was walking away from the mainframe market because it did not support FICON in the DMX line.

At the time of the DMX launch, EMC did state that it would be supplying mainframe users with new versions of the Symmetrix 8000 line.

Ken Steinhardt, EMC's director of technology analysis, said that, rather than supporting 1 Gbps FICON in the DMX series, EMC will repackage the Symmetrix 8000 for mainframe environments.

"We're going to improve the economics of the 8000 series going forward," he said.

EMC said it will support 2 Gbps FICON in the DMX series later this year.

Steve Duplessie of Enterprise Storage Group Inc., in Milford, Mass., said EMC does not want its customers thinking that they don't have mainframe connectivity just because the latest-generation Symmetrix DMX line only supports ESCON and not FICON connectivity.

He said FICON only represents about 15% of connections among currently installed Symmetrix systems.

"[Fifteen percent is] a big enough number to defend, so EMC put some creative mainframe-only packages together to head off any attack on that front. Not a bad move," Duplessie said.

The speeds and feeds

There are two models of the z8000. The first is the Symmetrix z8530, which is available in 2 terabyte (TB) and 3.5 TB configurations. Second is the Symmetrix z8830, which ranges in capacity from 5 TB to 10 TB.

EMC said the Symmetrix z8000 series features software compatibility with the entire line of Symmetrix DMX series of products.

All Symmetrix z8000 systems are available now at a starting price of $258,000. The cost varies depending on configuration.

EMC said customers now have the option to connect Symmetrix 8000 systems directly into an IP infrastructure for remote replication with Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) software.

Native Gigabit Ethernet and 146 GB drives are available for all new and existing Symmetrix 8000 systems. Let us know what you think about the story. E-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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