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EMC hops up NAS box

Waves goodbye to weakest link

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

EMC Corp has finally replaced the weakest link in its NAS line-up, swapping out its unpopular IP4700 device for a much beefier machine which combines the Dart operating system from the company's high-end Celerra NAS gateway, and the latest generation of EMC's mid-range Clariion storage array.

According to typical industry practice, the company issued a soothing statement that it has not yet taken the old box out the back and shot it. But clearly it will do soon. While the new device - the Celerra NS600 - is already part of the company's home page product listing, the IP4700 is no longer listed. "Certainly the NS600 will be our flagship and over time the 4700 will be phased out. The NS600 has three to four times the performance, greater availability and scalability, and a common interface with the Cellera CNS [Clustered Network Server]," said Paul Ross, director of storage network marketing for EMC.

The maximum raw data capacity of the NS600 is 11TB, compared to around 6TB for the IP4700. EMC stressed the ability of the NS600 to operate in a high-availability mode in which two controller processors will protect each other as a fail-over cluster. Alternatively, the box can be set to use both processors in tandem without failover protection, doubling its throughput. "We think the mid-range market is moving towards high availability," said Ross.

While the IP4700 was based on the Clariion FC4700, the Celerra NS600 is based on the latest and most powerful generation of Clariion, the CX600. When the CX600 was launched in August as a part of a drive upmarket for the Clariion, EMC said it had three times the processing power, three and a half times the bandwidth, and four times as much cache as the FC4700. The IP4700 ran the operating system developed by CrosStor Software Inc, a company which EMC acquired in 2000.

"The IP4700 never did well. In recent times the leading product for EMC was its Symmetrix, and that left little room for the IP4700," said Brad Nisbet, analyst at IDC. The move may help EMC turn the tables back on its arch-rival in the NAS sector, Network Appliance Inc. According to IDC, in the last quarter EMC lost its prized number one slot in the ranking of NAS suppliers and their shares of global revenue. It stole the number one slot from NetApp last year, but IDC said that in the third quarter, NetApp accounted for 38% of revenue, while second-placed EMC took 31%.

EMC stressed that despite a popular misconception, this NS600 is not the product codenamed Celeriion. "That Celeriion codename has caused more confusion that it was worth and it never applied to this product," a spokesman said.

The Celeriion was the code name for the version of the high-end Celerra CNS NAS head which can be linked to a Clariion, and which shipped around April this year, according to the spokesman. That coupling of the CNS with a Clariion is a more expensive system than the NS600, as it offers both file and block-level data access, and up to 14-way processor clustering for scalability and availability. "We didn't think it was headline news, and we didn't announce it," EMC said.

The cheapest NS600 will carry a list price of $167,000 for 1TB raw capacity.

© ComputerWire

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