Dell EMC Pushing Ahead With Overlapping Midrange Storage Lines, Offers Capacity Guarantee

Dell EMC is doubling down on its decision to maintain two of its only demonstrably overlapping product lines, arguing its legacy Dell SC Compellent series and EMC's Unity midrange storage lines are thriving side-by-side rather than cannibalizing each other.

"We are fully committed to our entire midrange product family including Dell EMC Unity and the Dell EMC SC Series," Craig Bernero, Dell EMC senior vice president of product development, said in a recent blog. "Each product solves different customer problems and is suited for different environments."

Bernero notes that Dell EMC's midrange storage revenue grew 32.8 percent between the third quarter – the first period Dell and EMC lines were combined after the early September acquisition of EMC by Dell – and the fourth quarter, according to statistics from research firm IDC.

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Bernero also said internal Dell EMC numbers indicate the company booked double-digit quarter-over-quarter revenue increases in both SC and Unity and saw a "substantial increase" in total customers for both lines in the fourth quarter.

However, IDC combined Dell and EMC's pre-acquisition numbers, and the resulting year-over-year comparison shows a more than 17 percent decline in fourth-quarter storage systems revenue to $2.1 billion from $2.6 billion a year prior. Dell EMC has a commanding market share position, finishing the fourth quarter with market share of slightly less than 33 percent compared with nearly 37 percent a year earlier, according to EMC.

The more-is-better strategy fits with Dell EMC's commitment to openness and customer choice, but the company doesn't get especially specific when it comes to which customers and environments are better suited to SC Series or Unity storage solutions.

The SC Series, Dell EMC says, is the value-priced line aimed at small and midsize businesses, especially when those businesses are already using Dell servers. Unity is being marketed to midsize customers as a general-purpose offering for block and file storage. SC comes in all-flash, disk only and hybrid configurations. Unity is available in configurations for all-flash, converged, hybrid and virtual deployments.

Bernero said Dell EMC is launching a new program called the All-Flash Storage Efficiency Guarantee, which guarantees that XtremIO, VMAX All Flash, Unity and SC series all-flash configurations can get a logical storage capacity of at least four times the physical capacity of the drives in their new array, allowing them to cram more data into less space and less management.

Michael Pearson, president of DSA Technologies, an Elk Grove, Calif., solution provider that works with Dell EMC, said the vendor's strategy around the SC series and Unity has been consistent and DSA sees distinct paths to selling each line.

"We definitely see them as both being viable options in the enterprise space," Pearson said. "Dell EMC needs a competitive all-flash array to compete with both Nimble [Storage} and Pure [Storage], so they're hoping to have that with Unity. Compellent competes with the more traditional storage plays and does that very well."

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