Channel Welcomes EMC's New Clariion, But Not Its Dell Relationship

The CX200 scales to a capacity of more than 2 Tbytes and supports Windows 2000, Windows NT, Linux and Novell NetWare environments, according to EMC. The array also can be upgraded to the equivalent features of a CX400, with a maximum capacity of 4.3 Tbytes, or a CX600, with a maximum capacity of 17 Tbytes.

Slated to ship in early December, EMC's CX200 starts at a list price of less than $30,000, including warranty and EMC services. The Dell version, with a similar configuration but services from Dell, starts at about $28,000.

Channel executives say they like the new entry-level array and how it fits into EMC's CX family, which includes the high-end CX600 unveiled in August and the midrange CX400 introduced earlier this month.

Scott Pelletier, senior technical consultant and storage practice manager at Lewan and Associates, a Denver-based solution provider that works with EMC, called the CX200 a good idea, since customers are seeking SAN connectivity without high prices. "EMC is always good at offering more connectivity than other vendors out of the chute," he said.

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As with other EMC products, the vendor's own staff handle implementation and related services for its hardware, an arrangement that Pelletier said is OK but could be improved. "On the one hand, I wish EMC would open the door for us for implementation services," he said. "On the other hand, if you opened that door, there are many unqualified solution providers. But you have to give EMC credit. When they do the implementation, they do it right. We'd do it right, too. But programs like this take time. I understand where they stand."

For Pat Edwards, vice president of sales at Alliance Technology Group, a Hanover, Md.-based solution provider, the CX200 isn't as exciting as the CX400 and CX600 because his firm is moving away from the NT space in the face of increasing competition, especially from Dell. Alliance Technology will sell the CX200 only when customers ask for it, he said.

"The CX200 is not cost-efficient for us," Edwards said. "Dell is strongest in the NT space. We're not going out there and fighting the battles with the CX200. The CX400 and CX600 are different. We're going for [EMC accreditation this week. We're actually excited about the CX line."

Edwards said he probably wouldn't sell the CX200 if EMC tried to move Dell-manufactured versions through the channel. "It depends," he said. "If customers need a lower-end solution, we might. But we wouldn't feel good about it. If it has a market need and a good profit, we will."

The CX200 will help drive EMC into corporate departments and workgroups plus give customers an opportunity to upgrade later on, meeting a demand for SANs in the midrange space, said Kevin Schoonover, director of engineering at Arrow Enterprise Storage Solutions, an Englewood, Colo.-based distributor. "If customers start with the CX200, they could move up to the CX400 or CX600 without the traditional data-migration issues," he said. "That's the biggest part of the story: Customers can step up in the product line and add features but not lose their investments."

Arrow on Monday extended its EMC Test Drive program to include the CX200, Schoonover said. "All of the CX arrays are available in our Atlanta and Chanhassen, Minn., labs for product and application testing," he said. "We give customers and solution providers an incentive to test drive the arrays. If the end user purchases a CX product within 60 days of testing, we will offer a one-year extension to the standard warranty."

The CX200 by itself isn't as exciting as the fact that it's part of a family of arrays, said Raymond Fischer, senior vice president for networked storage services at the Hall-Mark Division of Avnet Computer Marketing. "It brings our costs down and makes it easier for us in the channel to order and sell it," he said.

Fischer discounted Dell's ability to have a big impact on the channel with its version of the CX200. "Where Dell is very strong, our partners aren't," he said.