EMC this week becomes the latest top-tier storage vendor to embrace iSCSI. The company unveiled its new line of Clariion midrange storage arrays.
The AX100i, CX300i and CX500i are identical to EMC's Fibre Channel-attached AX100, CX300 and CX500 arrays except for the built-in iSCSI connectivity, said Tom Joyce, vice president of storage platforms marketing at the Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage vendor.
EMC, along with Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems and IBM, already have released versions of enterprise-class arrays with iSCSI capability, while Network Appliance has iSCSI in its Fabric-Attached Storage SAN/NAS arrays.
Several smaller storage vendors have had iSCSI capabilities in their midrange and entry-level arrays for some time. But EMC is the first to bring out a full line of iSCSI arrays for the midrange, Joyce said, making it a product that solution providers can use to differentiate their offerings.
"[VARs] can go to their customers and say, 'You know about the EMC value proposition. You know the EMC technology and products.' This is a great way to take these products to a customer's existing IP infrastructure," he said.
For Joe Cunningham, general manager of Computer Professionals International, an Albany, N.Y.-based EMC solution provider, iSCSI Clariions are a positive development. "iSCSI allows customers to make a lower-cost move into storage networking," he said.
Customers are not clamoring to move to iSCSI, Cunningham said. But those customers looking to build a storage network using their current IP infrastructure instead of Fibre Channel will be good prospects for the new arrays. "This gives us another tool for the war chest," he said. "When we talk SANs with customers, the talk moves to cost. Now they can get rid of higher-cost products."
Customers of Mission Viejo, Calif.-based Enterprise Computing Solutions are mainly from the enterprise side, and so are less likely to be interested in iSCSI, said Dave Butler, president of the EMC solution provider.
However, he said, iSCSI might be useful for smaller customers such as law firms. "It gives them the flexibility to extend their storage networks," he said.
EMC's Joyce said the new Clariions have the same specifications as their Fibre Channel cousins, with a slight drop in price because of the bundled software. The products are priced starting at $5,995, according to the company.