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EMC Corporation: Cloudfather Shows His Flash Hand Rivaling IBM, Netapp

 March 07, 2013 09:22 AM

(By Mani) EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC) announced the most extensive and broad set of flash solutions in the industry. Key products include XtremSF(four new server based flash cards); XtremSW and XtremIO(Scale-Out All-flash arrays).

EMC announced its XtremIO suite of flash products (PCIe cards, flash software, and all-flash arrays) based on its acquisition of XtremIO last year. While not a new news, the announcements clarify and set the stage for more direct competition in the PCIe flash card space with NetApp, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTAP) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

[Related -International Business Machines Corp. (IBM): What To Watch In Q3 Results?]

The latest announcements are a positive for EMC as it shows the extensive and competitive set of offerings they have in the marketplace across the flash spectrum.

The XtremIO all-flash array is nearly as fast but has more data services and capacity. EMC now is calling its mainline product lines of Isilon, VNX, and VMX hybrid arrays, which have both hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid state drives (SSDs).

In addition, the XtremIO update shows that all-flash arrays are making progress. Interest across enterprise flash deployments is increasing with IBM's Texas Memory Acquisition; Seagate's investment in Virident; NetApp's FlashRay and E-Series announcement.

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"We firmly believe that the battleground for storage has now shifted to Flash In Data Center. Over the last twelve months, we have seen the importance of a flash-based solution increase as improvements in technology (MLC) coupled with reduced cost of flash have made flash an increasingly viable HDD alternative in storage deployments," RBC Capital Markets analyst Amit Daryanani wrote in a note to clients.

Server Side Flash products increase processing speeds by placing flash next to the CPU within servers (PCIe cards), eliminating data transition lag times while flash arrays will serve a larger total addressable market in the long term.

XIO is a scale-out all flash array that is built from clustered X-Bricks, linked by InfiniBand. Given scale-out functionality performance scales linearly with capacity, as X-Bricks are added to the cluster, an 8-node cluster would have 25.6TB of raw-capacity. Moreover, all-flash arrays could take over the high-end of data center storage in the next couple of years.

EMC's Launch of XtremIO is catered attractively to this segment along with various other offerings like NetApp's FlashRay (early 2014), IBM's Texas Memory, HP's 3PAR and multiple other private companies like Nimbus, Nimble Storage, Nutanix, Pure Storage and Violin Memory.

Following is a brief introduction to EMC's new products:

XtremSF (Storage Flash on Server): This is EMC's updated and more attractive strategy on the server flash cards (prior VFCache). EMC is going to offer four different versions of server flash-cards that range from 350GB SLC card to the very high-end that is 2.2TB of MLC.

XtremIO Arrays: This is the official iteration of Project "X" and EMC's acquisition of XtremIO. The product is available for "directed availability" currently, and EMC anticipates general availability some time during summer-2014.

XtremSW: This is the server side flash software that enables using XtremSF as Tier-0. XtremSF can allow the customer to use their server side flash as persistent storage capacity (DAS) or enable to run it as a "cache" mode for frequently accessed data that need to be close to the processor. XtremSW currently only supports EMC hardware (i.e., XtremSF).

"We believe post these launches EMC has by far the most extensive set of storage solutions compared to any of its enterprise peers," Daryanani noted.

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