EMC is boosting storage performance, energy efficiency and ease of use, to remain competitive with rivals' offerings and cater to more demanding customers.

EMC Monday said its high-end Symmetrix line is being improved with a new model, the DMX-3, which comes in 300Gb and 500Gb capacity versions. They are physically smaller than previous Symmetrix models, which means they will take up less space in a data centre. The company claims the new Symmetrix additions are more power-efficient than previous EMC models and those from rivals such as Hitachi Data Systems and IBM.

EMC is also upgrading its Clariion line so those products can run in either Fibre Channel or iSCSI (Internet Small Computer System Interface) environments. Fibre Channel and iSCSI are two different protocols for the connection between a storage device and a server. Fibre Channel has been around for a while, but iSCSI is a newer protocol.

"We discovered that some of the same customers who were buying the iSCSI models were also buying Fibre Channel models. Now you can integrate them all in the same array," said Barbara Robidoux, EMC's vice president of storage platforms product marketing.

The Clariion upgrade, called the CX3 UltraScale series, also features a simplified process for configuring storage devices on a network. EMC claims it has reduced the number of steps required to complete certain tasks by 70% using a ‘wizard’.

EMC has to keep up with competitors and with growing customer demand for more storage, better performance and greater energy efficiency, said Brian Jarrett, an analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, a market research firm.

A few years ago, enterprise customers were primarily concerned with price and performance, but more recently, energy efficiency has been added to the list of requirements for new storage. "Power consumption is showing up more and more as something that matters to them," Jarrett said.

Some of the EMC announcements are just "incremental" improvements in existing models, he said, but he took note of a new Disk Library tied to the Clariion CX3 UltraScale model. The Disk Library backs up onto disk as many as 70P bytes of data. One petabyte is 10,000Gb. Jarrett said as enterprises collect more data, traditional tape backup, which occurs overnight when most offices are closed, may still be going on when workers return in the morning. Backing up onto a disk may be more expensive but can be done much more quickly.

EMC and other storage vendors are continually leapfrogging each other with new product announcements to remain competitive, Jarrett said.

EMC holds an industry-leading 20% market share in external disk storage, according to second-quarter 2006 figures from IDC. It is followed closely by HP with 19.3% and IBM with 13.2%, proceeded by Hitachi with 8%, Dell with 7.8% and Sun at 7.1%.