EMC And Dell Unveil AX4 Storage Array

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At the same time, EMC's biggest reseller, Dell, said it will resell the AX4 under the Dell AX4-5 moniker, making it the latest in a long line of EMC products that Dell resells.

This reseller relationship continues despite Dell's decision in June to acquire EqualLogic in a deal worth $1.4 billion, a move that gives the Round Rock, Texas-based vendor products that potentially compete with its EMC line.

One solution provider who asked to remain anonymous, said that EMC is probably keeping an eye on the Dell/EqualLogic potential with the introduction of its AX4. "It seems met to combat EqualLogic more than anybody else," the solution provider said.

The Clariion AX4 is intended to replace EMC's entry-level AX150 and Clariion CX300 arrays with a single entry model, said Barry Ader, senior director of storage marketing for EMC, Hopkinton, Mass. However, Ader said, EMC has yet to declare end-of-life for those two models.

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The AX4 supports from four to 60 hard drives using a mix of low-cost SATA drives and high-performance SAS drives, giving it a maximum raw capacity of up to 60 Tbytes, Ader said. It can work with up to 64 hosts in Linux, Microsoft, Unix, and Novel environments, he said.

Built into the AX4 is real-time volume expansion to ease the allocation of storage for new virtual servers using VMware, Ader said. It also includes EMC's Virtual LUN technology to support VMware's Storage VMotion for the non-disruptive migration of multiple virtual machine disk files, he said.

Later this quarter, AX4 users will also have the option of doing replication management with applications such as Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL as well as software from Oracle. Another option to be available this quarter is host-based remote replication using EMC's RepliStor software as well as array-based replication using EMC's MirrorView or SAN Copy software, Ader said.

Those capabilities will give solution providers new services opportunities in the small business space, said Pete Koliopoulos, vice president of global channel marketing at EMC.

"Partners are already doing non-disruptive backup, replication, and similar services," Koliopoulos said. "They will now be able to take these services to their smaller customers. The AX4 gives them all the flexibility to do what they're doing in the midrange down in smaller businesses."

The AX4, which is now available for shipping, carries an entry-level list price of $8,599, which includes 3 Tbytes of SATA hard drives and support for up to 10 hosts, as well as software for management, non-disruptive migration, and integrated data snapshots.

That is not a bad deal, said Charles Edge, director of technology at 318, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based solution provider who currently offers both the AX150 and CX300 to its small business clients.

"I'll have some re-thinking to do about my product offerings," Edge said. "This will simplify things. Any time you can simplify a product offering without increasing the cost, it is good for resellers."

Edge said that the upcoming software offerings will make it easier to work with small business customers. "Integration with RepliStor might be a nice way to do remote replication for smaller companies," he said.