EMC to Offer ATA Options for Clariion

Parallel ATA drives give users access to array-style features at less than half the cost.

EMC Corp. this week will roll out parallel ATA drives in several of its midrange Clariion storage systems that give users access to array-style features at less than half the cost, according to sources familiar with the plans.

The Hopkinton, Mass., storage maker is targeting the option at users looking for a disk-based alternative to inexpensive online tape libraries for server backup and recovery, the sources said. The move is part of a growing trend in enterprise disk storage, in which vendors such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and LSI Logic Corp. are readying similar offerings.

EMCs new ATA option will be announced March 12 at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany, sources said. Code-named Klondike, it will be available immediately for Clariion CX400 and CX600 models. Dell Computer Corp., as a primary EMC reseller, will also offer the option. Support for the CX200 model and for faster, more reliable serial ATA drives will come later, the sources said.

EMC CEO and President Joe Tucci hinted late last month that the company was considering giving Clariion users the option of ATA or Fibre Channel drives based on their needs.

"[ATA-based arrays] are slower, but it is online. Well have snapshots for copies of a lot more applications. You can write those snapshots off to very inexpensive storage, and then, because this is disk, we can give you the ability to instantly recover," Tucci told a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. conference in Palm Springs, Calif., last month.

Andrew Pipp, manager of computer operations at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging, in Eden Prairie, Minn., ordered a Clariion CX600 with the Klondike option and plans to put 13 terabytes on it, rather than upgrade his midrange IBM FAStT 700 storage. Going forward, Pipp plans to add 8 terabytes each year.

"We are one of the first go-live customers," Pipp said. The reason "is just completely cost-based. We store tons of medical images. [EMCs] Centera was great for getting things in; the problem that we saw was getting the data out," he said. (Centera is an ATA appliance, launched by EMC last year, for backing up data such as e-mail or medical files, not for critical servers.)

The Clariion parallel ATA drives are 250GB models from Maxtor Corp., based in Milpitas, Calif., sources said. Customers can mix shelves of ATA drives with shelves of Fibre Channel drives in the same chassis, but at least one Fibre Channel shelf is required to run Clariions Flare operating system and its snapshot software.

EMC spokesman Dave Farmer declined to comment on EMCs plans but acknowledged that the technology, in general, makes sense.

"In a perfect world, customers would want all their information online," Farmer said. "As technologies like ATA become integrated into high-availability storage architectures, customers will be able to keep more information online and keep it there longer."

Network Appliance Inc., in Sunnyvale, Calif.; and Storage Technology Corp., or StorageTek, in Louisville, Colo., also debuted Centera-like appliances with ATA drives last year, as did several startup companies.

HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., will announce a Klondike-like storage option later this year, as will LSI, also of Milpitas, for its E5600 series, officials of those companies said. LSIs midrange array is also the base of IBMs FAStT series and for StorageTeks D280 hardware.

Tokyo-based competitor Hitachi Ltd. does not have ATA plans for its Thunder series because of the technologys performance and reliability issues, a spokeswoman said. Officials of Sun Microsystems Inc., in Santa Clara, Calif., declined to comment.

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