Enterprise Storage Solutions Duke It Out

Two Texas gunslingers are turning to two East Coast computer companies for enterprise storage technologyDell announced this week the release of its Fibre Channel PowerVault storage line, which is based on Data General's Clariion Fibre Channel technologies.

According to analysts, Dell's alliance with Data General is critical to bolstering Dell's storage offerings.

"Clearly if they want to be competitive in the marketplace, they have to be able to offer storage for those environments," said Anders Lofgren, an industry analyst at the Giga Information Group, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Compaq quickly responded to Dell's news by announcing that it would use products acquired through its purchase of Digital Equipment to propel its own network storage strategy into the future.

Compaq may be playing catch-up: The Dell product is fully Fibre-Channel-compatible from the host bus adapter to the disk drives, and Compaq currently does not have an end-to-end Fibre Channel solution. Nevertheless, Compaq is working to integrate its storage products into its Fibre Channel storage network strategy, said Darren Thomas, Compaq's vice president of enterprise storage.

Compaq is also using Digital's high-end StorageWorks RAID Array 7000 and Enterprise Storage Array 10000 technology, and is working on a switched, "multi-initiator module" backup technology to let multiple servers and disk arrays connect to tape drives in a shared-data backup schema.

The Digital/Compaq products will migrate to full Fibre Channel connectivity as customers demand, with the first StorageWorks Fibre Channel products appearing by year's end.

Dell's PowerVault product will be available in quantity in September. The rack-mount units will range in capacity to as much as one terabyte, and pricing will cost from US$15,000 to more than $100,000 for a fully-configured system.

Dell Computer Corp., in Round Rock, Texas, is at http://www.dell.com. Compaq Computer Corp., in Houston, is at http://www.compaq.com. Storage Technology Corp., in Louisville, Colorado, is at http://www.storagetek.com.

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