Dell and EMC Answer the Clariion Call


In the summer of 1999, EMC purchased Data General, the last of the mini-computer pioneers, for $1 billion--marking its first move into midrange storage. A few weeks later, Dell Computer made its first major acquisition, a little-known company called ConvergNet Technologies, which the PC and server company intended to use to get a foothold in the storage market.

Dell's acquisition, valued at $350 million, turned out to be a failure--so much so that Dell executives openly admitted they would do more research the next time they made such a purchase. The acquisition was intended to strengthen Dell's position in the storage area network (SAN) market, but no product was ever released from that merger. Subsequent attempts to build some storage market share never amounted to much.

Fast forward to the summer of 2002: Dell and EMC have come together to form an unlikely partnership that has been blessed with all the right moves. EMC, which was forced to stop solely relying on sales of its flagship hardware when the economy turned sour, is diversifying its Clariion product line and driving it deeper in the midrange and low-end storage space. At the same time, EMC has signed a five-year reseller deal with Dell.

Just last week, EMC announced the release of the Clariion CX600--a device that is suited with both front-end and back-end 2-Gbit Fibre Channel speed; it is designed to run data-intensive applications such as disaster recovery, data warehousing, e-mail or video streaming. As EMC's third version of Clariion since acquiring the product, the subsystem is equipped to handle 240 disk drives for a capacity level of 17 Tbytes. EMC's previous version, the Clariion IP 4700, had a 7-Tbyte capacity level.

"The point of this is to continue to evolve from the Data General acquisition and make Clariion the leader in mid-tier storage," said Mike Wytenus, EMC's director of platform marketing.

More important, executives say, this is part of a larger movement within EMC to consolidate their network storage into a more modular architecture which includes merging SAN and network-attached storage (NAS) capabilities. Future versions will offer a NAS component IT managers can do file serving as well as block-level transfers. The current high-end Symmetrix subsystem has NAS capabilities through its Celerra operating system.

Branded under the Dell/EMC name, Dell Computer will have a major hand in helping EMC to expand its sales into the midrange. Just recently, Dell reported during its earnings call that its storage revenues would hit the $1 billion mark at the end of this year. No doubt, Dell has EMC to thank for that.