Storage behemoth EMC has outlined plans to bring a Flash-based server to market later this year, but denied the move will sour relations with long-standing technology partner Cisco.
The product, codenamed Project Lightning, was unveiled at the EMC World partner summit in Las Vegas yesterday by the firm's chief operating officer, Pat Gelsinger, during his keynote presentation.
"We are announcing today Project Lightning, where EMC will be entering the server Flash business," he said. "Project Lightning will be delivered as products from EMC later this year. "
The offering will feature PCIe/Flash cache technology and EMC claims it will be more cost effective and reliable to use than existing servers that contain direct-attached storage.
The firm has also set up a Flash-focused business unit in preparation for the product's release that will focus on managing new and existing partner relationships to drive sales.
During a media Q&A shortly afterwards, Gelsinger said the product is expected to ship during the second half of this year, with beta testing due to start imminently.
"We are not competing with HP and IBM with this product," he said. "We will be aiming it at our enterprise customers because that is where our sales channels are strong, that is where we see a strong response from our customers. [It is about] bringing that capability to our enterprise clients."
Gelsinger then went on to dismiss suggestions that Project Lightning's launch could lead to Cisco being ousted from the Virtual Computing Environment Company (VCE) alliance the two firms formed with VMware.
"Vblock with Cisco is a converged infrastructure," he explained. "We expect there is going to be a significant market for converged infrastructure. Some of it might be very compute-centric with a little bit of storage. Some of it might be storage-centric with a little bit of compute.
"The Vblock architecture is very much the convergence of that infrastructure and a unification of the management around it and that is what makes a Vblock a Vblock," he stressed.
During a further press conference, Joe Tucci, chief executive of EMC, said the rollout of Project Lightning was not indicative of a wholesale move by the vendor into the server market.
"No we are not [going into the server business completely]," he said. "We are going to play at the server level in several different ways through Isilon, EMC and VMware by including Flash technology at the server level."
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