Early this week I had to opportunity to visit the EMC Centre of Excellence at Cork, Ireland. The Czech EMC subsidiary organized a factory tour and number of presentations of the new storage and backup products for their customers and partners.
The EMC campus is located west of Cork in Ovens county. The visitor center is right next to the factory. At the entrance there are on display fake CLARiiON, Celerra, Centera and Symmetrix which are all assembled in the factory. As I was not allowed to take photos in the factory this is the only picture I have got.
They are assembling, configuring and testing storage at the factory for the whole EMEA region. The PCBs with chips and memory, solid state and spindle drives are shipped here from other factories (China, Japan) and are electronically and mechanically tested here. Once assembled into a rack, a few temperature controlled rooms are fulled with them. The systems are abused with changing temperatures from very cold to very hot for few days with diagnostic tests run on them. Seeing full racks of disks with furiously flashing LEDs in an environment with 40+ degrees was quite impressive. At any time if something fails the component is taken to a lab where they try to reproduce the failure and find root cause with the manufacturer of given component. It takes about five days from the initial paper configuration to the assembled and tested equipment ready to be shipped to the customer.
We mostly saw Symmetrixs, but the new VNX product lines were also present.
EMC as a storage leader is not afraid to show how they make their products. On the other hand the current trend in storage industry is to use commodity hardware and the technical differentiation among vendors is the software. I guess to see how software is made would not be that impactful.