— Day two of the EMC World conference in Boston saw big news for EMC’s Clariion and Celerra midrange storage platforms as the company announced sub-LUN tiering, flash-based caching and Unisphere, a new management tool that aggregates all of EMC’s midrange element managers.

Beginning in July, it will be possible to manage all of EMC’s existing and future Clariion and Celerra midrange storage systems from a single view using EMC Unisphere. Unisphere will serve as the management interface for configuring, managing and monitoring Clariion and Celerra environments as one, a capability that is sorely needed, according to Rich Napolitano, president of EMC’s Unified Storage Division.

“One of the biggest pain points in our customer base is that there are too many element managers. Unisphere represents the aggregation of all of our element managers in the midrange product space into one,” says Napolitano.

Unisphere’s initial release will feature integrated management for Clarrion (SAN), Celerra (NAS) and EMC RecoverPoint.

FAST For Sub-LUN Tiering, Caching, Compression

The next iteration of EMC’s FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) software, also slated to ship in July, will include a range of enhancements for automated data movement and optimization.

FAST 2 allows for the automated movement of block data at the sub-LUN level in Clariion and Celerra storage systems, resulting in better application performance, according to Napolitano.

FAST can move pieces of the LUN – rather than the whole LUN – putting frequently accessed data on flash drives and infrequently accessed data on a lower cost tier of SATA drives.

The new version of FAST also includes policy-based options such as “auto-tiering,” which moves data based on I/O patterns, “highest tier” for maximum performance, and “lowest tier” for the cost conscious.

EMC is also using enterprise flash drives in a new way with EMC FAST Cache. FAST Cache uses flash-based solid state disk (SSD) drives to create a multi-terabyte read and write cache to absorb “unexpected workload spikes” on Clariion CX4 and Celerra NS systems.

Block data compression has also been added to the mix. Napolitano says simply clicking on a volume can reduce capacity by anywhere from 20% to 90% as the subsystem compresses data in the background.

VMware API Integration

EMC hasn’t forgotten the virtual server world. There is a new crop of VMware vCenter plug-ins that gives VMware administrators the ability to provision both SAN and NAS storage on Clariion and Celerra directly from the vCenter management console.

In addition, Clariion and Celerra now support VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI), which offloads VMware storage-related functions from the server to the storage system.

Napolitano says the APIs are a decomposition of certain functions that are better executed at the subsystem level. “Certain functions should be implemented by the [host] and others by the storage,” he says.

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