EMC overhauls hardware platforms

By Kevin Komiega

—EMC announced a slew of performance, security, and capacity upgrades across its entire family of hardware platforms today, including new versions of its Symmetrix arrays, an enhanced operating system, a more energy-efficient version of the Centera platform, and entry-level versions of its Celerra NAS products and Rainfinity file virtualization appliances.

Leading off the upgrade parade is the Symmetrix DMX-4 series of high-end storage systems. The new arrays feature an end-to-end 4Gbps architecture and a new Fibre Channel point-to-point back-end for higher levels of reliability. DMX-4 arrays support both high-speed Fibre Channel disk drives and 750GB SATA-II drives in the same system.

According to Barry Ader, EMC senior director of marketing, support for multiple drive types gives users more flexibility. "The new tiering options within the DMX-4 allow customers to mix Fibre Channel and SATA drives within a single array," he says, "so they can align specific applications to specific types of drives based on business requirements."

Ader says flexibility is a key component of all of the new platform upgrades. "We've made enhancements to address the different ways users are buying storage, focusing on areas such as energy efficiency, ease of use and implementation, flexibility, and security."

EMC also announced the latest version of its Enginuity operating environment. Ader claims Enginuity can improve Symmetrix performance by up to 30%; makes local data replication up to 10x faster using TimeFinder software; makes synchronous remote replication up to 33% faster; and doubles replication distances using SRDF software.

The new version of Enginuity includes a set of built-in security features from EMC's RSA security division, including integration with the RSA enVision platform that brings audit logs from Symmetrix into the enterprise-wide view of audit logs for security and compliance provided by enVision.

Pricing for an entry-level configuration of the Symmetrix DMX-4 is $250,000. Support for 750GB SATA-II drives is expected later this year. Thin-provisioning capabilities will be available for Symmetrix DMX-4 and DMX-3 systems in early 2008, according to company officials.

Steve Norall, senior analyst and consultant with the Taneja Group, says EMC is incrementally pushing the feature/function envelope across the board. "They're moving to support 750GB SATA-II drives and they're able to fold that in across their entire product portfolio because they have virtualization and non-disruptive data migration technologies," says Norall.

The steady integration of tighter security features via RSA is also giving EMC more-compelling security solutions. "EMC is continuing to tighten the integration between RSA's security technology and some of their storage systems. Where they may have been weak in the past they are now catching up and are pushing competitively across multiple frontiers," says Norall.

On the NAS front, EMC rolled out a new entry-level Celerra system—the NS20—and updated the larger NS40. Both systems now feature multi-protocol support for iSCSI and Fibre Channel connectivity for block- or file-level storage. Like the Symmetrix DMX-4, the Celerra NS20 and NS40 will also support 750GB SATA-II drives.

Pricing for the entry-level Celerra NS20 starts at $34,000. The NS40 is priced from $50,000.

Another newcomer to the lineup is an entry-level version of the EMC Rainfinity File Management Appliance (FMA). Using the FMA, companies can implement policy-based file management and automatically move and retrieve files across a NAS infrastructure. The FMA works with Celerra, other vendors' NAS systems, and EMC's Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) systems. EMC is hoping customers who buy the entry-level FMA will eventually upgrade to the full Rainfinity Global File Virtualization solution.

The Rainfinity File Management Appliance is priced at $42,500.

EMC's focus in the CAS space seems to be on saving power. The company is rolling out the Centera Generation 4 LP (low power) CAS system to address growing concerns about energy consumption. According to EMC's Ader, the Centera Generation 4 LP nodes were designed with low-power processors and chipsets, adaptive cooling, and more-efficient power supplies to reduce energy consumption, while also offering 50% more storage capacity per node via 750GB SATA drives.

Ader claims a Generation 4 LP node reduces power and cooling requirements by 67% compared to previous generations of Centera. In addition, EMC beefed up security in its CentraStar operating environment to boost authentication, system logging, and auditing capabilities. The new software is compatible with previous Centera generations and is available as a free upgrade to customers with maintenance contracts.

A four-node configuration costs $77,300 and can be integrated into existing Centera environments.

Rounding out EMC's slew of platform upgrades was a series of enhancements to the Clariion CX3 array and its FLARE operating system. The latest version of FLARE incorporates more security capabilities, such as improved access control and expanded compliance and audit features. In addition, Clariion CX3 iSCSI capabilities have been extended with support for native iSCSI remote replication. The new operating environment, which can be implemented on all CX3 systems as well as previous-generation CX systems, also provides RAID-6 protection and active-active fail-over. Clariion systems will also support 750GB SATA-II drives.

The new FLARE release will be available as an upgrade for existing Clariion CX3, CX300, CX500, and CX700 customers; it will be available with new Clariion purchases beginning in October.

This article was originally published on July 16, 2007