EMC is set to introduce new Symmetrix DMX storage arrays with software that, the company claimed would cut customers' total hardware costs and allow data replication over any distance.

EMC declined to comment, but sources say the company will announce: • Two new DMX arrays that will represent the bottom and the top of EMC's product line.

• Technology that allows asynchronous replication of data between storage-area networks over unlimited distances for disaster recovery and increased data availability.

• iSCSI protocol support to enable the transport of SCSI data over Gigabit Ethernet networks.

• Fiber Connectivity (FICON) capability, which allows attachment of storage to mainframe servers.

Most important is the introduction of an asynchronous version of EMC's data replication software used by businesses to transfer data between geographically separated locations for disaster-recovery purposes. Called the Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF), the new asynchronous mode lets data be replicated using IP over any distance. EMC's previous synchronous mode was limited to 62 miles without the addition of a channel extension box from CNT or Nortel Networks Corp.

"Asynchronous replication permits geographical data distribution and backup, and assists in controlling the cost of the telecommunications infrastructure, which gives people more reason to replicate more data," says Brian Babineau, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group.

At least one analyst sees EMC's replication capability as a matter of survival in the growing replication market.

"If EMC did not start to hustle in delivering inexpensive replication solutions, everyone was going to move away and do applications either from the network or some gadget in the middle of the fabric," says Arun Taneja, senior analyst with Taneja Group. "This is a survival move for EMC. If they don't do it, they are going to hurt."

Replication software experienced the largest growth in the storage software industry in the first quarter of this year, according to IDC, accounting for US$263 million of the $1.42 billion market.

EMC's asynchronous SRDF also will use a native Ethernet adapter, thus eliminating the need for installing and managing a separate CNT, Cisco or Nortel router.

"The primary benefit obviously is having one less box to purchase and manage, so you would hope there is some kind of cost benefit if the functionality is built into a card or blade within the box" says John McKnight, an analyst with Enterprise Storage Group. "Then there are management and operational efficiencies from not having to discover and manage an entirely new device. The management functionality would likely be an extension of storage software the administrator is familiar with."

The benefit of an integrated card for replication is not lost on one user.

"It removes the need to get a network-to-SAN bridge, since it is already providing one within the box," says Kent Smith, principal consultant for IPSO, a business systems integrator in Wayland, Mass. "The fewer pieces I need to buy, the happier I am for two reasons - fewer pieces equal lower cost and fewer vendors equal (a box that is) easier to support."