EMC today announced the latest addition to its family of Celerra unified storage systems in the form of the EMC Celerra NX4, a new entry-level system capable of supporting NAS, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel SAN environments and designed primarily for EMC partners that sell into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market.

The Celerra NX4 is built on the same system architecture as the EMC Clariion AX4, allowing for up to 60TB of raw storage capacity (32TB usable) and configurable with up to 60 high-capacity SATA disk drives or high-performance SAS drives. The NX4 also supports a mix-and-match approach with support for both SAS and SATA drives on the same disk shelf.

The NX4 uses EMC’s centralized Web-based Celerra Manager software for system administration and includes several software features at no extra cost. The system touts automated volume management, thin provisioning, and Celerra SnapSure software for data protection via snapshots.

Additionally, EMC is offering a Celerra Replicator software option for local and remote replication.

The Celerra NX4 supports Microsoft, Unix, Linux, and VMware ESX Server operating environments and a range of popular applications, including Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Oracle, VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, and VMware Site Recovery Manager.

Brad Bunce, director of Celerra product marketing, says EMC has been putting up big numbers in the NAS market, citing 50% revenue growth over the past two quarters based on the success of the Celerra product line. He is confident that the NX4 will help EMC fuel continued growth in Celerra sales, particularly through the channel.

“The channel has embraced the Celerra family and it has been one of the major driving forces behind the high adoption rates of the NS20 and NS40,” says Bunce. “The NX4 is more affordable and easier to use and we have taken enterprise functionality that you would expect to pay for at the high-end and offering it in the NX4 at no extra cost.”

Bunce says the NX4 is available now and will be offered by EMC partners worldwide; it complements the higher-capacity Celerra NS20 and Celerra NS40 systems to round out partners’ unified storage portfolios. EMC has taken steps to ensure a streamlined ordering process for partners by making the NX4 available in a variety of so-called express configurations.

Entry-level pricing for the Celerra NX4 starts at $20,375 in comparison to the larger Celerra NS20, which has been upgraded to accommodate 90TB of raw capacity and starts at a price of $32,000.

EMC’s target customer for the NX4 is the SMB or remote office customer with up to 10 servers and between 2TB and 10TB of storage capacity. Bunce believes small businesses are the backbone of the NAS market, but the NX4 may find a more receptive audience in the remote office.

“The NX4 is appropriately aimed at SMBs, but it is also very obviously aimed at EMC partners with a focus on the SMB market,” says Charles King, principal analyst, Pund-IT. “This is positioned very much as a partner offering because that is the most effective way EMC has of reaching into the SMB market. They are not a watchword in the big box, IT solution retail centers.”

King says system availability, performance, and a very high degree of protocol flexibility along with snapshot, thin provisioning, and automated volume management features make the NX4 a solid offering for some SMBs and enterprise customers with remote office locations.

“These types of capabilities are not on the wish lists of a lot of small businesses, but they are for SMBs that need a very high level of availability and performance. If the SMB is price-focused they probably would not be looking for the capabilities found in the NX4,” says King. “Initially, I think we will see most of the uptake for the NX4 in remote offices.”

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