EMC revamps Clariion architecture

Supports 4Gbps FC drives

By Kevin Komiega

EMC recently overhauled its entire line of midrange Clariion disk arrays 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 UltraScale architecture and feature end-to-end (host-to-drive) support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel and up to twice the performance and capacity of previous Clariion systems.

At the core of the UltraScale architecture is native multi-lane PCI Express interconnect technology and up to 16GB of cache memory, to speed throughput.

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Although new for EMC, support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel drives is not unique. LSI Logic’s Engenio division, for example, also sells disk arrays that support 4Gbps drives, as do LSI resellers such as IBM and Sun (see “LSI extends 4Gbps FC arrays,” right).

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.

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

The CX3-20 is designed for 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 up to 128 hosts.

The CX3-40 scales up to 119TB and supports up to 128 hosts. 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, which scales up to 480 drives, or 239TB of total capacity, and supports as many as 256 hosts. The CX3-80 features eight 4Gbps Fibre Channel host ports and eight 4Gbps Fibre Channel disk ports. Users can also mix 2Gbps and 4Gbps Fibre Channel drives in the CX3-80.

The CX3 arrays currently do not support Serial ATA (SATA) disk drives or iSCSI.

One of the key differences between the new Clariion systems and their predecessors 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 Q3, EMC will add processes and utilities that will allow customers to install Clariion UltraScale CX3 arrays themselves. Users will be able to add 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. Users will also be able to take the do-it-yourself approach when they’re replacing power supplies, cooling fans, and disk drives.

The CX3 series supports EMC’s management and replication software, and can be configured for direct-attached, Fibre Channel SAN or, later this year, iSCSI SAN deployments.

A 365GB configuration for the CX3-20, CX3-40, and CX3-80 is priced from about $27,000, $52,000, and $101,000, respectively.

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.

EMC ships availability software

By Kevin Komiega
EMC recently began shipments of a pair of network monitoring and application analysis tools aimed at improving uptime and efficiency in storage networks.

The two new products, both resulting from EMC’s acquisition of software start-up SMARTS last year, are the EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager and Smarts Storage Insight for Availability. The tools discover and create a model of users’ application environments and integrate with EMC’s ControlCenter to automate the root-cause and impact analysis of availability problems across Fibre Channel SANs.

The Smarts Application Discovery Manager is resource management software that provides a view into application behavior and interdependencies in an IT infrastructure. EMC says Application Discovery Manager is the jumping-off point for more-extensive application and infrastructure monitoring, analysis, and automation across the data center, which, in turn, can reduce operating costs, speed troubleshooting, and boost network reliability.

Some of the features of Smarts Application Discovery Manager include native discovery of more than 500 applications, the ability to create port- and service-based applications, automatic application mapping, and user-controlled configuration discovery. The software does not require the installation of agents and, according to EMC, can be installed in about an hour.

Application Discovery Manager also has change-tracking capabilities through a real-time log of changes to application components, configuration files, applications, file systems, IP addresses, memory, and patches. The software can also capture change information related to settings in configuration files.

EMC says most customers have historically relied on manual tools to discover and map application dependencies, which wastes time and personnel resources.

Smarts Storage Insight for Availability automates fault management for storage through integration with ControlCenter, EMC’s flagship storage management suite. The two management tools play off each other to automate root-cause and impact analysis of availability problems across a Fibre Channel SAN, resulting in reduced downtime and mean time to repair.

Storage Insight for Availability uses data and the topology mapping directly from ControlCenter to discover SAN network elements and their inter-relationships. The product’s analysis engine then identifies the impact of failures on different components of the SAN, such as hosts, file systems, and logical data paths, as well as EMC’s Celerra NAS systems and file shares.

This article was originally published on June 01, 2006