By Dave Simpson
Yesterday, EMC introduced a number of features and arrays in its DMX line that may turn some heads. For example, the company introduced non-disruptive upgrade capability, an asynchronous version of its SRDF software, and support for iSCSI.
The non-disruptive upgrade capabilities come via a new version of EMC's Engenuity operating software and allow users to perform tasks such as hardware/software upgrades, reconfigurations, and service-related operations without bringing down the array. Previously, users had to buy extra host bus adapters (HBAs) and expensive path-fail-over software to handle those operations non-disruptively, according to Chuck Hollis, vice president of storage platform marketing at EMC. The new version of Engenuity, which EMC claims also provides a 20% performance improvement, runs on all DMX arrays and is available as a free upgrade.
In September, EMC will ship a multi-protocol card for its DMX arrays that supports 2Gbps FICON, Gigabit Ethernet, and, for the first time, iSCSI. The company will also provide an iSCSI "readiness assessment" service. The multi-protocol card has up to four ports and can be configured with any mix of interfaces.
Hollis says that the iSCSI support is only for server-to-storage connections (as opposed to WAN connections), providing a less expensive alternative to Fibre Channel. EMC has tested the iSCSI connection with HBAs from a variety of vendors.
The Gigabit Ethernet connection is for applications such as remote replication and eliminates the need for expensive Fibre Channel-to-IP conversion boxes that can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000, according to Hollis.
Also on the replication front, EMC will ship an asynchronous version of its SRDF software, called SRDF/A. The main advantage of asynchronous replication versus synchronous replication is the ability to replicate over longer (global) distances, but EMC also claims that SRDF/A will provide up to a 30% savings in telco costs compared to other asynchronous replication products due to bandwidth-saving techniques.
EMC also introduced EMC Snap local replication software, which is pointer-based (as opposed to full-copy replication software such as the company's TimeFinder). Although common on midrange arrays, Snap represents EMC's first pointer-based replication code for its high-end arrays. EMC claims a 70% capacity savings vs. TimeFinder.
Finally, EMC announced two new DMX arrays: a low-end, 4-controller version of the rack-mounted DMX800 that costs 30% less than the previous low-end DMX800 ($284,000 for 584GB of raw capacity), and a new high-end model, the DMX3000. The triple-bay DMX3000 provides twice the capacity and performance of the DMX2000.