27 May 2004 Storage giant EMC moved to open up a new market for itself by launching what it regards as by far the cheapest low-end storage area networking (SAN) bundle of products.
EMC chose the opulent surroundings of London’s Lanesborough Hotel for the global unveiling of arguably one of its most significant product sets in years for small and medium sized enterprises – the AX100, formerly codenamed ‘Piranha’.
The product set consists of a storage array designed and manufactured in collaboration with one of EMC’s closest partners, Dell, plus up to a dozen disk drives, EMC’s Legato management software, a Brocade port switch, Qlogic host bus adaptor storage drivers and a wizard-based installation and management tool.
The AX100 supports Windows, Linux and NetWare operating systems although support for Unix will come later, the companies said.
It is the price of the bundle that has raised eyebrows within the analyst community: just £5,899 (or €8,499 in the rest of Europe and $9,999 in the US) for the full SAN configuration.
A direct-attached version, which comes minus the Brocade switch and some SAN software features, costs only £3,499 (or €4,999 in Europe and $4,999 in the US).
Until now, SANs, which make better use of available storage resources and help applications run quicker, have been mostly the preserve of the world’s biggest enterprises with the most complex IT infrastructures and the greatest storage demands. But growth at the lower end of the market is currently outpacing growth at the higher end as prices continue to fall, say analysts.
Joe Tucci, EMC’s president and CEO, said the AX100 was the first networked storage product set below the $10,000 figure, a level more normally associated with conventional direct-attached systems.
He denied that the product was a loss-leader and insisted it was not his intention to trigger a price war with competitors, many of which charge well over $20,000 for even their cheapest SAN bundles.
Dell’s president and chief operating officer, Kevin Rollins, who joined Tucci for the London launch, added: “It wouldn’t be the worst thing if it happens, but our interest is not a price war. We fully expect this product to change the storage industry by increasing the number of customers able to afford and use networked storage.”
Dell executives said the low price was thanks to a combination of standardised technologies that had commoditised some storage functions, Dell’s famous supply chain efficiencies, and aggressive negotiations with component manufacturers.