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EMC Corp. and Dell Inc. joined forces during a Webcast in London on Wednesday to introduce the AX100, an entry-level SAN (storage area network) device targeting small and midsize businesses and remote office customers at a cost of less than $10,000.

Slightly bigger than a traditional VCR, the 2U AX100 array starts at $4,995 for a SAN-ready DAS (direct-attached storage) configuration with 480 gigabytes. The rack-mountable product can scale up to 3 terabytes of SATA (serial ATA) disk storage in a full SAN implementation for $10,000.

By early next year the AX100, featuring 12 SATA drives, will scale up to 6 terabytes based on the availability and development of SATA storage systems, according to officials of Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.

The AX100 features host bus adapters from QLogic Corp. and Emulex Corp. that connect with Brocade Communications Systems Inc.’s Silkworm 8-port 3250 switch, and it can conduct snapshots, enabling the downsized offering to be easily installed, managed, and upgraded by non-IT-savvy professionals and organizations. The product provides Fibre Channel connections and will support iSCSI capability in the “not-too-distant future,” said Joe Tucci, EMC president and CEO.

“What we’re providing today is basically a SAN environment for the price of what used to be direct-attached [storage],” said Tucci. “From an EMC point of view, it’s a new market for us and one we wanted to get into for years, and with these types of partnerships it will make it easier.”

Tucci admitted that the AX100 is geared toward a lower-end market outside of the data center and large enterprise accounts that EMC is accustomed to aggressively targeting. The storage titan will rely solely upon Dell and a number of its recruited partners, including CDW Corp., TechData Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Ideal Scanners and Systems Inc., and Avnet Inc., to push the low-end storage device around the world. Dell will manufacture the product, as will EMC for its partners.

“This product is built for our partners and this product was built for our channels … we’re going to remove the EMC sales force from the equation and we’ll see what it shakes out,” said Tucci.

Last week, EMC introduced its NetWin 110 NAS (network-attached storage) offering for Microsoft Windows-based SMBs, which does not include Dell as a distributor. Before the AX100, Dell attributed for about one-third of EMC’s sales of its Clariion product family, including the Clariion CX 300, Clariion CX 500, and Clariion CX 700 models.

The AX100 offers support for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Novell Netware, and eventually will add support for Unix platforms, EMC officials said.

Dell also announced on Wednesday that it will resell EMC’s Legato RepliStor backup and restore software for its customers.

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