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IBM Targets EMC With New SAN Volume Controller

IBM is trying to take market share from EMC by taking control of EMC's storage arrays with an enhanced version of its SAN Volume Controller.

IBM on Friday unveiled the fifth generation of its SAN Volume Controller, a device that can be used to virtualize storage from multiple vendors without the need to change how host servers access the data on the arrays.

Previous versions allowed IBM's solution providers to virtualize arrays from IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems, but this is the first to also work with EMC's DMX and Symmetrix enterprise arrays and especially its Clariion line of midrange arrays, said Ron Riffe, storage strategist for IBM TotalStorage.

"This is part of a larger effort to go after EMC directly," Riffe said.

David Browning, executive vice president of Advanced Systems Group, a Tustin, Calif.-based IBM partner, said he is looking forward to working with the SAN Volume Controller.

Because of its ability to virtualize across arrays from multiple vendors, the SAN Volume Controller will let solution providers take IBM to customers they could not tackle before, Browning said.

"I'm excited to see IBM support virtualization of EMC arrays," he said. "It allows us to go in and really demonstrate the capabilities of the SAN Volume Controller."

IBM's Riffe said the ability to virtualize EMC arrays using an IBM device is important in order to break the hold EMC has on its customers. "If you go to an EMC client today, they are locked into EMC hardware," he said.

With the product, solution providers get the freedom to customize customers' storage infrastructures so they can reduce costs, Riffe said. "Solution providers are more like partners to customers than the vendors are," Riffe said. "Unfortunately, solution providers have been shut out of many of those opportunities."

The SAN Volume Controller is expected to ship Monday. The product's list price is about $60,000.

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