EMC extends ILM and IP storage

By Ann Silverthorn

—EMC this week introduced a number of hardware and software products targeted at expanding the market for tiered storage and paving the way for IP storage in the enterprise. EMC made capacity enhancements to its Symmetrix DMX-3 disk array and introduced new file system software and NAS virtualization capabilities. Through these enhancements, the company intends to extend information lifecycle management (ILM) benefits to more applications and extend IP storage into enterprise storage environments.

EMC has scaled the Symmetrix DMX-3, first introduced in July 2005, both up and down. DMX-3 can now scale up to more than one petabyte using 2,400 disk drives, including 500GB Fibre Channel drives. The array can scale down to as few as 96 drives, while still allowing users to non-disruptively upgrade capacity to 2,400 drives. A single DMX-3 can handle mission-critical data as tier one, business-critical data as tier two, and archive data as tier three. RAID levels can be customized for each tier.

Citing IP storage's low cost, simple deployment, and the ability to leverage existing investments and span outside the data center, EMC plans to take IP storage into the enterprise with a number of other products announced this week.

New IP storage file system software, Multi Path File System for iSCSI (MPFSi), bypasses the NAS file server and file protocols, improving on traditional single-path NAS file serving. Using standard NAS with the low-overhead iSCSI protocol, MPFSi sends large blocks of data over an IP network. EMC believes MPFSi will improve performance by 4x for customers involved in grid computing, software development, video imaging, advanced financial analysis, and geophysical research.

MPFSi also provides iSCSI-based remote replication and IP storage provisioning to EMC's Celerra NAS systems. EMC's virtual provisioning offers automated monitoring and extension of storage, by storage class, to improve on basic thin provisioning.

New features were also introduced for EMC's Rainfinity Global File Virtualization platform. For example, Global Namespace Management provides a unified view of the files and file systems on all of the heterogeneous file servers and NAS devices on an IP network. Synchronous IP Replication provides protection for critical files and file systems through synchronous replication.

Regarding EMC's interest in IP storage and its potential impact on Fibre Channel, Ken Steinhardt, director of technology analysis at EMC, says, "Having the flexibility to employ Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NAS is key. EMC's message is that customers can deploy any or all of those technologies. One of the largest universities in the country deployed an extensive storage network with Fibre Channel and NAS. The university has now introduced iSCSI and is optimizing all three technologies for different service levels, yet it looks like one big global, enterprise network."

EMC also unveiled advanced retention management software for its Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) platform. The new features enable authorized users to identify and extend retention periods for specific records or objects in a Centera archive. Event-based Retention (EBR) and Litigation Hold features have been developed for Centera Governance Edition and Compliance Edition Plus. Enhanced security features allow users to create management profiles that determine who can have access to specific data.

This article was originally published on January 28, 2006