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Commentary: HP's new storage system puts pressure on EMC

Hewlett-Packard's XP512 storage system is based on Hitachi Data Systems Freedom Storage Lightning 9900, the newest and fastest disk subsystem on the market.

    By Josh Krischer, Gartner Analyst

    Hewlett-Packard's XP512 storage system is based on Hitachi Data Systems' (HDS) Freedom Storage Lightning 9900, the newest and fastest disk subsystem on the market, posing a significant challenge to EMC's Symmetrix and other competing products.

    HDS built the Lightning 9900 around an internal fiber switch with bandwidth of 6.4 GB per second--more than four times as fast as EMC's Symmetrix 8000.

    See news story:
    HP readies second phase of assault on EMC

    The Lightning 9900's back-end connectivity and 3.2 MB-per-second bandwidth are the most impressive in the industry and should improve performance, especially for workloads that draw heavily on cache and for applications with a heavy write component.

    (However, not enough performance data or feedback from enterprise users exists yet to compare the Lightning's performance to competing products, so performance claims should be viewed cautiously.)

    HP has added features to the HDS storage subsystems to improve the product and differentiate it from the HDS offerings. Those features include CommandView, a Web-based control program, and integration with its OpenView console.

    With the new subsystem, added features and its own marketing prowess, HP has a good chance to succeed with the XP512.

    All of this represents one more bit of pressure on EMC. HP resold EMC's Symmetrix until May 1999, when it switched to HDS.

    One year later, HP has found that revenue has remained the same, but profit margins have increased. This benefit will likely improve as HP continues to develop unique features and integrates the HDS technology more fully into its own product portfolio.

    Therefore, Gartner expects that the result of the XP512 announcement will mean additional erosion of EMC's market share among HP accounts.

    EMC faces wider challenges, too. It became the leader in high-end storage systems because its Symmetrix product offered features businesses could get nowhere else.

    Now, however, HDS offers similar features and IBM and Storage Technology, in part, do as well. This trend--and announcements such as HP's XP512--will make it harder for EMC to charge a premium for Symmetrix.

    Entire contents, Copyright © 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.