EMC builds storage network

EMC Corp. last week rolled out a new set of storage solutions aimed at letting customers consolidate their data storage across multiple computing platforms.

The product line, called the Enterprise Storage Network (ESN), would let users capture data from many more servers across a wider geographic area than previously had been possible. At the heart of the package is Connectrix, a new fiber-optic switch based on the Fibre Channel standard. Connectrix quadruples to 128 the number of servers that can be connected to a single EMC storage device more than half a mile away.

EMC also has upgraded its Symmetrix Redundant Array of Independent Disks devices, unveiling six new models that can store up to 9 trillion bytes of data. To round out the package, the company introduced new versions of software for managing its storage systems and performing file transfers to support clustered Unix and Microsoft Corp. Windows NT servers.

Being able to accommodate the growing deployment of Windows NT systems is a major thrust of the rollout, said Bob Dutkowsky, executive vice president for markets and channels with EMC. "The tidal wave of NT is coming fast," he said at a press briefing March 1. Customers "all want to connect the servers to enterprise storage."

ESN is EMC's contribution to the market for storage-area networks, which are a method for enabling many servers to share a central storage device, much like local- and wide-area networks allow many client computers to share applications and directories on a central server.

Dwight Beeson, chief of the systems engineering group with the Library of Congress, a current EMC customer, said he plans to install a storage-area network this year. He is considering products from several vendors.

The library has 19 terabytes of data, much of it holdings of the National Digital Library, spread across Unix, Windows NT and mainframe systems. "The management of all this storage is getting to be quite difficult," Beeson said. A storage-area network would "allow us to more effectively manage and distribute storage across multiple servers and platforms." In addition, he said, such a system would free up bandwidth on the library's LAN by enabling users to move large data files using the storage network instead.

Scott Sherman, district manager for civilian agencies with EMC, said current customers who want to upgrade will be able to do so simply by installing the Connectrix switch. "You're able to significantly cut down on your administrative requirements," he said, by not having to turn to platform-specific storage solutions for mainframe, Unix and Windows NT systems.

EMC supplies storage systems to more than a dozen federal agencies. In addition to the Library of Congress, those agencies include the U.S. Postal Service, NASA and the departments of Commerce, Defense and Energy.

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