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EMC and Dell today released the long-awaited Clariion that isn't.

The Clariion AX100 has arrived, as expected, as a low-end system designed to bring SANs (storage area networks) to small- and medium-sized businesses. But unlike the other Clariion systems sold by both EMC and Dell, the AX100 uses its own management software and Serial ATA drives. So while the box does deliver a low-cost SAN option to SMB customers, it also fragments the EMC/Dell line for these customers should they wish to upgrade at a later date.

EMC's CEO, Joe Tucci, edged around this issue.

"We've taken many of the features found in our Clariion CX systems and have integrated them into the EMC Clariion AX100," Tucci said. "This system will give our customers an entry point from which they can scale and effectively manage their information throughout its lifecycle."

EMC's other Clariion boxes primarily use Fibre Channel disks but do support ATA disks as well. The higher-end boxes also use the Navisphere Management Suite for management.

Pricing for the AX100 starts just under $6000 for a single controller. The box can holds up to 12 SATA disks with capacities varying from 160GB to 250GB per disk. The brings total capacity up to 3TB.

The 2U box supports Windows, Linux and NetWare and is available in a dual controller configuration.

Should you run out of storage space and want to connect into a larger Clariion device. Tough luck. It's not possible. You'll need to buy another AX100. This should not affect many small companies in the near term but could be a problem with storage demands always growing.

EMC and Dell are touting a "wizard-based" management package for the new box that includes a Web interface to control the kit remotely. EMC and Dell have also qualified Brocade's Silkworm 3250 8-port Fibre Channel Switch and the Emulex LP101-E and LP982-E and QLogic QLA200-E and QLA2340-E HBAs for use with the Clariion AX100.

Dell will manufacture the new system. ®

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