EMC refreshes storage hardware line

EMC Corp. aims to further cement its position in the storage market with a recent bevy of announcements that include a refresh to its hardware product lines CLARiiON, Symmetrix, Celerra and the virtual tape library.

For its mid-tier CLARiiON offering, a line that is heavily dependent on the channel, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage giant has introduced iSCSI capabilities in conjunction with fibre channel connectivity within the same array.

The addition of iSCSI to the 4-Gbps, fibre channel-based CLARiiON CX3 series, which EMC launched in May, is meant to provide users with flexibility to easily and cost-effectively consolidate information from and between disparate networks, according to the company.

“We think it would be a big benefit for customers, offering more value as well as improving efficiencies from a management and functionality standpoint,” said Pete Lavache, director of storage platforms product marketing at EMC Corp.

The enhanced CLARiiON CX3-20 FC/iSCSI system supports up to 128 high-availability hosts and includes four fibre channel and eight iSCSI ports. It can be configured for up to 59 terabytes. The CX3-40 FC/iSCSI system is similar but allows up to 119 terabytes of capacity.

In addition to its mid-range storage hardware developments, EMC has unveiled the Navisphere Quality of Service Manager software designed to allocate CLARiiON resources to meet application service level requirements.

The new product enables users to set priorities as well as schedule policies to run certain applications at specific times, such as optimizing e-mail during business hours and programming backups and reporting during off-hours.

Users “can also schedule applications based on response time, throughput or bandwidth, which is important because not all applications require the same kind of performance,” said Lavache.

“This adds a level of intelligence we see is needed in this market. And this is something partners can sell on value and open the conversation about bringing more apps into these environments which brings more services and value added opportunities.”

To help with ease of use, Lavache said EMC has introduced the Navisphere Task Bar, “a wizard-based management tool to reduce the number of steps associated with common management tasks by up to 70 per cent.”

New models have also been added to the EMC Celerra NS series of IP NAS systems. The Celerra NS40 and NS40G (gateway version) provide up to 32 terabytes of usable capacity via a single or dual-blade configuration.

According to EMC, the NS40 systems are ideal for customers looking to consolidate multiple file servers and/or Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL or Oracle applications running on direct attached storage. The NS80 and NS80G are optimized for environments requiring advanced clustering availability and provide up 60 terabytes of usable capacity via two, three or four blade configurations.

“We’re delivering EMC’s UltraScale technology (into Celerra) which gives a boost in both capacity and performance over its previous generation,” said Lavache.

On the virtual tape library front, EMC is seeing a lot of market traction, according to Lavache. “There’s a lot of acceptance and it’s a market we continue to drive forward with new innovations,” he added.

Leveraging the UltraScale technology and based on the CLARiiON CX3 arrays, EMC has introduced the Disk Library 4000 series, which, according to the company, doubles the performance and scalability of previous Disk Library systems.

The new EMC DL4100, DL4200 and DL4400 systems can scale up to 340 terabytes of capacity, features 4-Gbps fibre channel and can be configured for up to 64,000 virtual tape cartridges.

More than 70 petabytes of EMC’s Disk Library have been shipped in over two years, according to Lavache. “This is not a market tracked by IDC but it’s a phenomenal number,” he said. “We have a lot of experience in this space and continue to grow with partners.”

Meanwhile, in its higher end offering, EMC has unveiled an entry-level version of its Symmetrix DMX-3 line of enterprise-class arrays.

The DMX-3 950 can be configured for up to 360 hard drives in one or two bays and includes fibre channel, iSCSI and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity.

Not unlike PCs, storage vendors too are beginning to pack in the performance per dollar, said Warren Shiau, lead analyst at The Strategic Counsel. This part of the announcement is about “getting more price performance into the bottom end of the Symmetrix line which is good for EMC because the market is moving in that direction,” said Shiau.

A lot of vendors are feeling the pressure in this space, he added. “To be under pressure to offer increases in capacity like that points to really heavy price pressure in the market,” said Shiau, referring to EMC’s disk library announcement.

To continue to lead in the storage space, EMC has to either perform major engineering feats to improve efficiency and capacity or make software acquisitions and offer things like data solution or content management on top of storage, said Shiau. “For example the Documentum acquisition, it shows the company’s direction and a real evolution of what it’s doing.”

“For channel partners, it’s encouraging to see that a large vendor like EMC is moving with the market,” he said. “In this announcement, for instance, EMC is extending high end products downward, packing in more price performance that’s the sort of thing you’d look for as a partner because it helps make a bridge between lower and higher level offerings.”

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