EMC Refreshes Storage Array Line

EMC provides across-the-board upgrades but holds back on thin provisioning until 2008.

Data storage system vendor EMC announced July 16 that it has refreshed its entire lineup of arrays, keeping all its storage hardware and software systems on track to get "bigger, faster and better," a company spokesperson said.

The upgrades add "new functionality and improved performance" in its high-end Symmetrix DMX series, the midrange Celerra, Centerra, and Clariion lines, and in its entry-level Rainfinity product, Barbara Robidoux, EMC vice president for storage platforms, told eWEEK.

"This is a provide-general-value-across-the board announcement," said analyst David Hill of The Mesabi Group. "EMC wants to make sure that its customers continue to get added value from the products that EMC provides them. In other words, EMC wants to make sure that its customers are satisfied and do not stray into competitive pastures."

What EMC did not announce, however, was the immediate availability of thin provisioning in any of the new upgrades, a hot feature that smaller companies such as 3PAR, OnStor, EqualLogic, NetApp, Hitachi Data Systems, CommVault and several others already provide.

Thin provisioning is a method of storage resource management and virtualization that lets IT administrators limit the allocation of actual physical storage to what applications immediately need. It enables the automatic addition of capacity on demand up to pre-set limits so that IT departments can avoid buying and managing excessive amounts of disk storage.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about EMCs plans to offer an on-demand storage service.

"EMC typically does not pre-announce, so it is interesting to note that it has announced thin provisioning, which will be available the first quarter of calendar 2008," Hill said. "This move is designed to keep up with the competitive Joneses. Symmetrix customers would not want to rush into a decision on thin provisioning anyway, but this lets them get started on planning."

The new upgrades in the products, as listed by EMC, are as follows:

  • The high-end Symmetrix DMX-4 storage arrays now feature an end-to-end, 4 G bits/s (gigabit-per-second) architecture, and a new Fibre Channel point-to-point back-end for higher levels of reliability, Robidoux said. They also are the first high-end arrays to support both high-speed Fibre Channel disk drives and new low-cost, 750 GB SATA II disk drives that can reduce energy consumption, Robidoux said.

EMC also introduced a new version of its Enginuity storage operating system for Symmetrix machines. It improves performance by up to 30 percent—according to in-house benchmarking—makes local data replication up to 10 times faster, and makes synchronous remote replication up to 33 percent faster, Robidoux said.

"The latest version of the Symmetrix operating system provides performance improvements for both DMX-3 and DMX-4 customers," Hill told eWEEK.

"EMC is making a wise move in not forcing customers to move from the DMX-3 to the DMX-4 for performance reasons. This protects current customer investments in the DMX-3, and customers can decide to add DMX-4 storage platforms if they have a particular need, such as a requirement for tiered storage."

  • The entry-level Celerra NS20 and larger Celerra NS40 systems can be deployed in NAS (network attached storage) and SAN (storage area network) environments using iSCSI or Fibre Channel connectivity, Robidoux said. Celerra also supports the new 750 GB SATA II disk drives.
  • The entry-level Rainfinity appliance for file archiving enables policy-based file management and can automatically move and retrieve files across an entire NAS infrastructure, Robidoux said. It works with Celerra, other NAS systems and Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) systems.
  • The new Centera CAS (content-addressed storage) system features four low-power nodes with low-power processors and chipsets, adaptive cooling and more efficient power supplies to reduce energy consumption—while also offering 50 percent more storage capacity per node using new 750 GB SATA disk drives, Robidoux said. The result: a Generation 4 LP node reduces power and cooling requirements by 67 percent per terabyte, according to in-house tests.
  • The Clariion CX3 networked storage system incorporates more functionality with the addition of new built-in security capabilities that provide customers with improved access control and expanded compliance and audit features, Robidoux said. Clariion CX3 now offer support for native iSCSI remote replication.

Next Page: Ramping up the competition.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...