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Dell, in its first major product announcement since Michael Dell replaced Kevin Rollins as CEO on Jan. 31, revealed Feb. 20 that it has joined forces again with data storage market leader EMC to launch a new storage system designed for small to midsize businesses.

The Round Rock, Texas-based company, more well known for its desktop and portable personal computers, claims that the Dell/EMC CX3-10 will bring "enterprise-class capabilities to more affordable price points and help customers scale operations as storage needs increase," a company spokesperson said.

It also gives the user the option to connect via either iSCSI or Fibre Channel ports. Primary applications that it can run include Microsoft Exchange (e-mail), SQL Server, and Oracle and SAP databases (CRM and ERP applications).

EMC will be selling the same array branded as the CX3-10 UltraScale FC/iSCSI system. This machine provides a new entry-level package for EMC’s Clariion product line.

The CX3-10 is the third such SMB-aimed collaboration between Dell and EMC. Last April, the two companies launched the EMC Clariion AX150 and AX150i systems at Storage Networking World in San Diego.

The AX150i was billed as the next generation of Dell and EMC’s popular AX100 model; the down-sized storage systems are slotted as part of EMC’s Insignia portfolio, which is geared toward small and midsize businesses.

In 2002, EMC and Dell worked together to produce the entry-level Clariion CX200.

Click here to read more about the Clariion CX200 storage system.

Trend is clear: More now available for less

A clear trend among all the major storage hardware and software companies is to provide enterprise-like storage and data protection performance at a non-enterprise cost.

For the past 18 months or so, IBM, Sun Microsystems, HP, NetApp and a number of others have been trying to gain traction in the lucrative midrange SAN market, just as EMC and Dell are.

"Midsize businesses are finding out they have to store just as much information as the big companies, but they usually don’t have big staffs or big budgets to deal with it," Katie Curtin-Mestre, director of Clariion product marketing at EMC, told eWEEK. "Our focus at EMC is economical solutions for these midsize enterprises."

The CX3-10 is an entry-level SAN (storage area network) array that features data protection and high availability. Because it supports iSCSI and Fibre Channel hosts, the new array extends the reach of the enterprise-class UltraScale architecture to small and medium businesses, the spokesperson said.

iSCSI-based SANs provide significant cost advantages over traditional Fibre Channel SANs, thanks to lower fabric, implementation and maintenance costs. Fibre Channel, however, provides higher I/O performance and reliability.

"Dell has been working on this [a concerted move into the SMB storage sector] for a long while. Michael [Dell] certainly believes that storage is one of the company’s strong points, and he intends to continue to emphasize it in the business plan as time goes on," Dell director of storage Praveen Asthana told eWEEK.

The Dell/EMC CX3-10 storage hardware bundles software for failover and management, as well as offering an all-SATA drive configuration for customers seeking bulk storage. It is designed to be used in combination with Dell PowerEdge servers.

Dell also introduced two new tape libraries: the PowerVault TL2000 and the PowerVault TL4000–both of which offer full data protection, the spokesperson said.

Using the Dell/EMC CX3-10 and the PowerVault tape libraries together give SMBs a basic starter system to help customers build a reliable, centralized system for storing, backing up, recovering and archiving critical data, Asthana said.

Next Page: Features.

Key features of the Dell/EMC CX3-10 include:

  • Multi-fabric connectivity via iSCSI and Fibre Channel
  • Simple task-based management of storage via the new Navisphere Task Bar
  • Supports a full suite of data replication applications for local snapshots and remote mirroring
  • Can mix Fibre Channel and SATA disk drives to meet tiered storage requirements or deploy an all-SATA configuration

    Key features of the new tape libraries include:

  • Enables unattended, reliable backups and data archiving in one package
  • 4U solution with 44 cartridges for a native capacity up to 17.6TB or 2U solution with 24 cartridges for a native capacity of up to 9.6TB
  • Rack-ready, customer installable, intuitive operator control panel and Web-based remote management

    Asthana said he believes that direct-attached storage is "becoming hot again."

    "We’re finding that there is a resurgence of interest in the uncomplicated direct attached storage space," Asthana said. "Some customers find that they don’t need an elaborate, costly storage system or SAN for their business.

    "They just need something that is ‘good enough’ to do the job. That’s what we’re offering here," Asthana said.

    Pricing and availability

    All the above products are available now. The hardware pricing for the Dell/EMC CX3-10 starts around $22,000; pricing for the PowerVault TL2000 and TL4000 tape libraries starts around $9,300.

    Check out’s for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.