EMC debuts new architecture for Clariion

By Kevin Komiega

—EMC announced today that it has overhauled its entire line of Clariion midrange storage systems with a new architecture, faster components, and the ability to configure multiple tiers of storage in a single array.

The three new Clariion CX3 disk arrays are based on the Clariion UltraScale architecture. The platform features 4Gbps Fibre Channel technology and up to twice the performance and capacity of previous Clariion systems.

EMC has packed many of the capabilities found in its flagship Symmetrix array into the new line of CX3 products, including the ability to consolidate and tier storage in a single box while mixing-and-matching various types of disk drives.

At the core of the UltraScale architecture is native, multi-lane PCI Express interconnect technology to speed throughput. UltraScale features up to 16GB of memory and low-latency, high-bandwidth 4Gbps host and disk interfaces.

"Other vendors have added 4Gbps front-end controllers and will eventually add 4Gbps hard drives, but what differentiates us is the architecture," says Barry Ader, EMC's senior director of Clariion product marketing. "Unless our competitors change their architectures to withstand the bandwidth requirements of 4Gbps drives they won't have true 4Gbps systems."

CX3 customers can use EMC's Virtual LUN technology to move data between Fibre Channel drives within the array, and the metaLUN capabilities of UltraScale allow users to create a LUN that spans multiple RAID groups and expand LUNs on-the-fly.

The UltraScale architecture serves as the foundation for the three new models of Clariion hardware: the CX3-20, CX3-40, and CX3-80.

The CX3-20 is designed to support applications such as e-mail and messaging, departmental applications and databases, Web services, distributed applications, and remote replication. The CX3-20 scales from 365GB to 59TB of capacity and supports 128 host machines.

The CX3-40 scales up to 119TB, with support for 128 hosts. End users can also mix different classes of disk drives in the array, with a choice of 2Gbps or 4Gbps Fibre Channel drives.

Completing the new trio of midrange systems is the CX3-80, an array that scales up to 480 drives with 239TB of total capacity and support for as many as 256 hosts. The CX3-80 features eight 4Gbps Fibre Channel host ports and eight 4Gbps Fibre Channel disk ports and was designed for tiered storage configurations, backup-to-disk, and data warehousing applications. Users can also mix-and-match different flavors of Fibre Channel drives in the CX3-80.

One of the key differences between the new Clariion and its predecessor will be EMC's planned offering of a "self-service" installation option in the near future, according to William Hurley, an analyst with the Data Mobility Group research and consulting firm.

In the third quarter, EMC will add processes and utilities that will let customers and partners install Clariion UltraScale CX3 series array hardware themselves. Users will also be able to add disk drive enclosures into existing arrays online and conduct their own online upgrades of the Clariion FLARE operating environment.

However, EMC is not getting out of the installation and service business. Customers can also have the aforementioned services performed by EMC or its partners.

Additionally, users will be able to take the do-it-yourself approach when they're replacing power supplies, cooling fans, and disk drives using a new Disk Replacement Utility wizard.

"It is a great stroke on EMC's part to enable end-user self-service," says Hurley. "Customers can go with the traditional EMC support, or they can choose to mix-and-match."

The CX3 series supports EMC's management and replication software and can be configured for direct-attached, Fibre Channel SAN, or iSCSI SAN deployments. iSCSI connectivity, along with support for Network Equipment Building System (NEBS) requirements for use in public switched networks, will be available later this year.

Pricing for a 365GB configuration begins at about $27,000 for the CX3-20, $52,000 for the CX3-40, and approximately $101,000 for the CX3-80.

All models are currently available from EMC and its channel partners—including Dell, Fujitsu-Siemens, and Unisys—as well as through distributors such as Arrow and Avnet.

This article was originally published on May 08, 2006