Updated from 5:45 p.m. EDT MondayStorage giant EMC ( EMC) is planning a major product launch for Tuesday morning that may entail the unveiling of the latest version of its Symmetrix hardware. Journalists have been invited to access the online "news event" early Tuesday, at which point EMC will announce an "important information storage product." Although EMC is keeping specific details of its launch under wraps, speculation is mounting that EMC will unveil its Symmetrix DMX-5, code-named "Tigon." At least one analyst thinks that the eagerly awaited DMX-5 will make its debut Tuesday. "EMC appears set to announce the expected refresh of its high-end Symmetrix DMX-series arrays on 4/14," wrote Aaron Rakers, an analyst at Stifel & Nicolaus, in a note released last week. "Our industry contacts have pointed to beta deployments over the past several months." Rakers says that the announcement could include Solid State Disks (SSDs) and may tie in with EMC's virtual data center and cloud strategies. SSDs offer faster data access speeds than traditional hard disk drives and have been gaining momentum in recent years, thanks to the support of firms such as EMC, IBM ( IBM) and Sun Microsystems ( JAVA). The EMC Web site says that Tuesday's event will involve "the virtual data center of the future," boldly urging press, analysts and customers to "overtake the future." EMC launched the latest version of its Symmetrix, the DMX-4, in 2007, and CEO Joe Tucci has promised a refresh in 2009. Symmetrix accounts for around 20% of EMC's total sales, although revenue from the technology fell 9% year over year in the company's recent fourth quarter, as EMC wrestled with the tech spending slowdown.
Stifel & Nicolaus analyst Rakers says that a DMX-5 launch could ease his concerns about weak first-quarter results from EMC. The analyst estimates that EMC's first-quarter revenue will decline 6% year over year, and 19% sequentially from $4.02 billion in its recent fourth-quarter results. EMC, which announced plans to slash 2,400 jobs earlier this year, has not offered any specific first-quarter guidance, although analysts are predicting revenue of $3.26 billion. The Hopkinton, Mass.-based firm estimates that global IT spending will fall in the mid-to-high-single-digits percentage-wise in 2009 from 2008. Despite the product rumors swirling around EMC, the company's shares dropped 54 cents, or 4.08%, to $12.71 during Monday trading. Shares were up slightly -- 0.2% -- to $12.74 in premarket trading Tuesday.