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EMC adds Windows, ATA disk support for new NAS line

EMC is banking on the acceptance of NAS, traditionally relegated to a world of workgroup and departmental storage, in the data center with a new line of products including a Clariion-Windows hybrid.

Network-attached storage (NAS) technology, once relegated to a world of workgroup and departmental storage, is slowly moving into mainstream data centers. At least that's what Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corp. is banking on with its latest NAS offerings.

EMC announced a series of new mid-tier products and enhancements Wednesday, including a NAS gateway, ATA disk drive support and the first EMC system based on the recently released Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003 operating system.

The EMC NetWin 200 NAS system couples Windows Storage Server 2003 with EMC's Clariion CX200 networked storage system.

When Microsoft announced availability of Windows Storage Server at last month's Storage Decisions 2003 conference, seemingly every vendor imaginable lined up to showcase its wares based on Windows, with the exception of IBM. Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at the Enterprise Storage Group, said it's absurd to think that anyone can fight off Microsoft forever.

"I give EMC credit for biting the bullet and moving on to the next fight," he said. "Their top channel is Dell, who happens to sell one or two Microsoft boxes, so it makes sense."

Duplessie wouldn't be surprise if, eventually, Microsoft becomes the underlying operating system to all of EMC's NAS offerings. "EMC, and any other OEM, should realize that the value is above the [operating system], not inside it. That war has already been won," Duplessie said.

EMC decoupled the NAS head from its existing NS600 Clariion NAS box, which is now NS600G, a gateway product. It integrates NAS functionality into the Clariion CX600 and CX400 systems with dual data movers. The NS600S is EMC's entry-level model for the Celerra NS600 series and includes a single data mover.

EMC isn't neglecting the desires of end users when it comes to low-cost disk drives. The company said that high-capacity, low-cost ATA disks are now available in both integrated Celerra NS600 systems and Celerra CNS clustered environments. According to EMC, every Celerra model now offers ATA disk drives for new applications, including backup to disk technologies from CommVault Systems, Computer Associates, Legato Systems and Veritas Software.

"EMC is covering the spectrum," said Evaluator Group analyst Randy Kerns. He said that, today, NAS exists primarily in workgroup and departmental environments, but it is moving up to small and medium-sized businesses and to enterprise data centers.

Kerns added, "To attack on all fronts, [you] have to have products that are targeted to each market with the different characteristics and that appeal to the different people that make the purchase there."

EMC said the advent of the NetWin 200 will not directly affect the company's existing OEM relationship with Dell Computer Corp. Dell sells its own line of Windows-based NAS systems under its PowerVault brand.

EMC's senior director of NAS product marketing, Tom Joyce, said his company doesn't want to go after the lowest end of the Windows Storage Server 20003 market today, which is where Dell sells its NAS products. "We have no aspirations of being in the $2,000-to-$5,000 market," he said. "We have a close relationship with Dell."

Joyce said situations could arise wherein Dell and EMC might go head to head in a customer account, but that competing with partners is not EMC's goal. He said EMC will offer its partners -- namely Dell and Fujitsu Siemens -- access to management technology developed for the NetWin 200.

The aforementioned products are generally available now. The NS600G runs $97,000. The NS600GS costs $63,000. End users will have to shell out $114,00 for a 1 TB NS600S configuration, and the NetWin 200 will cost $32,000 for a 500 GB model.

Pricing for the NS600S, NS600G and NS600GS include the CIFS protocol, SnapSure software, Web Manager and a two-year hardware and a 90-day software warranty.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Kevin Komiega, News Editor.

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