EMC delivers high-end SAN

Posted on April 01, 1999

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EMC delivers high-end SAN

By Heidi Biggar

EMC last month announced the Connectrix Enterprise Storage Network System, an integrated enterprise-class storage area network (SAN), as well as a new family of Symmetrix arrays, complementary management software, and support services.

At the heart of the SAN are Connectrix Enterprise Directors, or high-end Fibre Channel switches. Up to two 32-port switches, which are based on McData hardware, can be integrated into a cabinet with management software. Fully configured, the storage network provides 64-port switched Fibre Channel connectivity between Symmetrix arrays and Windows NT and Unix servers (currently, only Solaris). The system is compatible with host bus adapters from Emulex and, for Sun servers, JNI adapters. Nodes can be connected at distances of up to 1km. Support for 10km distances is due within the next few months. Also on the horizon is Connectrix support for tape libraries.

A 32-port Connectrix system with fully redundant components (e.g., controllers, memory, message path controllers, power supplies) is priced at about $528,000.

The Connectrix Management Software Suite was developed in conjunction with EMC`s McData subsidiary. The software provides a high-level view of attached Connectrix cabinets and "drill-down" management of the directors. Specific capabilities include:

- Centralized management from Windows 95 or NT workstations.

- SNMP support to other management systems, such as CA Unicenter, Tivoli, and HP OpenView.

Service support for up to three Connectrix cabinets.EMC also introduced six new Symmetrix arrays with twice the capacity (up to 9TB) and, through new microcode, a 40% higher throughput and 33% faster response time than previous systems, according to company officials. Embedded software increases the number of logical volume addresses from 1,024 to 4,096.

"The new models are tuned to the needs of ESN [enterprise storage network] environments," says Bob Dutkowsky, executive vice president of EMC`s markets and channel business.

Complementing the Symmetrix ann-ouncement were two software upgrades: NT was added to the list of supported platforms for the InfoMover data sharing program, and PowerPath now has cluster support for Unix and NT, automatic path failover, and dynamic recovery. Also, EMC introduced three new professional services to help users assess, design, and implement ESN architectures.

Despite concerns about the propriety nature of EMC`s ESN approach, industry analysts are giving it the thumbs up. For example, International Data Corp. analysts say the improvements should contribute to EMC`s continued leadership in independent enterprise storage systems and to a stronger position in the market for high-end NT storage.

"For multi-host SANs with multiple operating systems, EMC is a likely leader, although most early SANs will be homogeneous," says John McArthur, IDC`s program director of storage system research.

This announcement comes on the heels of the February launch of FibreAlliance, an EMC-piloted initiative created to develop an SNMP-based MIB for storage networks (see InfoStor, March 1999, p. 1).


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