EMC virtualizes, aggregates Centera archives

Posted on December 02, 2009

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By Kevin Komiega

-- EMC today took the wraps off the Centera Virtual Archive, a new technology that ties multiple Centera content addressed storage (CAS) systems together as a single virtual archive.

The Centera Virtual Archive essentially creates clusters of clusters by logically extending the Centera CentraStar operating software to include multiple Centera instances under a single management domain.

Centera is EMC's IP-based platform for archiving compliance-sensitive application data. The system uses a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Nodes (RAIN) architecture to combine off-the-shelf, commodity hardware with intelligent management software at massive capacities.

The Centera platform currently scales to as many as 128 nodes for up to 128TB of raw capacity per Centera cabinet (more as higher capacity drives become available). Multiply that by four and a single Centera archive can now scale to multiple petabytes of capacity.

The first version of the Centera Virtual Archive will be available December 10, and will support aggregation of up to four Centera systems over campus-wide distances.

Centera Virtual Archive is also capable of aggregating Centeras of all shapes and sizes, regardless of capacity or which version of the CentraStar software is in use. The caveat is that at least one node in an existing Centera must be running the Virtual Archive software.

List pricing for the Centera Virtual Archive starts at $8,000.

Four Centeras can certainly create a massive archive, but according to Peter Thayer, EMC's senior director of storage product marketing, aggregating four Centeras across a campus may not be enough to accommodate the growth of archive data in some environments.

"The total customer count for Centera is around 5,500, and they run the gamut from very large managed service providers typically selling an archive service to relatively small, discrete archives. Explosive data growth is the common denominator," says Thayer.

EMC plans to increase the number of Centeras supported under the Centera Virtual Archive in the near future. The company also plans to eventually extend geographic reach of the Virtual Archive technology from campus-wide to worldwide.

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