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EMC Corporation last month announced a new line-up of storage systems and software that seek to help customers store information more cost-effectively, securely, and intelligently.

Among the products announced are the new EMC Symmetrix DMX-4 series of high-end storage arrays featuring an end-to-end 4GBps architecture, Fibre Channel point-to-point back-end, support for both FC and new low-cost 750 GB SATA II disk drives, double the replication distance when using EMC SRDF, and overall performance improvement of up to 30 per cent.

EMC Celerra NS20 and NS40 multi-protocol storage systems feature NAS and SAN connectivity through iSCSI or Fibre Channel, new Celerra Startup Assistant software, and support for 750GB SATA II disk drives, which reduce power consumption by up to 33 per cnet. The new Centera Generation 4 LP nodes offers 50 per cent more capacity per node, reduces power and cooling requirements by 67 per cnet per TB by using new 750GB SATA disk drives, and provides new security features in the EMC CentraStar storage operating environment.

The new EMC CLARiiON CX3 storage system features a new CLARiiON FLARE operating environment with expanded compliance and audit features, new native iSCSI remote replication, RAID 6 protection, active/active failover, and support for 750GB SATA II disk drives. The company also introduced the Rainfinity File Management Appliance (FMA) that enables organizations to cost-effectively implement policy-based file management and automatically move and retrieve files across the entire NAS infrastructure including EMC Celerra, other NAS, and EMC Centera.

In addition, customers can upgrade from the FMA to the full Rainfinity Global File Virtualization solution. Centera Generation 4 LP Nodes and the Rainfinity File Management Appliance are now available. The new Symmetrix DMX-4 series, new Celerra NS20 systems, Celerra multi-protocol NS40 systems, and CLARiiON enhancements will be available in August 2007. The updated CentraStar software and latest version of FLARE are available as a free upgrade to customers with maintenance contracts.

These announcements are impressive by sheer number alone; however, despite the broad range of capability and storage agility illustrated by EMC, there are a couple of overriding themes evident in these releases that, to us, epitomize the current state of the industry.

These are the seemingly ubiquitous SATA II drive, and energy efficiency. The 750GB SATA II drive is one of the more interesting disk technologies in recent memory. This is not to say that it is a new and revolutionary technology in and of itself, but rather one that through its price/performance profile has altered some of the fundamental assumptions about "the right place" for storage technologies within the enterprise.

Not that long ago, the mention of Symmetrix to most IT professionals would trigger visions of the essence of high-performance, mission-critical, some would even argue gold-plated (in the best sense of the words) storage solutions. The thought that the more modest SATA technology would ever take up residence in such a revered platform would be unthinkable. How rapidly times have changed.

Small SATA drives are affecting assumptions about the cost and performance of not just entry-level solutions, but the higher end as well. The combination of their high capacity and lower price points for drives and interconnects has resulted in a more cost-effective building block for storage solutions. Granted, the absolute performance of these drives is surpassed by other technologies, but for many, the performance is more than good enough.

It is clear that EMC recognizes this, as these new drives are supported across the range of EMC solutions, from CLARiiON and Celerra, through Centerra and Symmetrix. This should provide the company not only flexibility in its product offerings to meet customer needs, but also some price competitiveness given reduced component costs and their ability to offer more storage within a single rack space.

The other aspect of SATA that is noteworthy is the 33 per cent reduction in power consumption EMC is claiming for these drives. As organizations struggle to keep up with internal demand for storage while seeking to limit their exposure to escalating power costs, the ability to keep the number of drives in a storage array constant while gaining higher capacity should be welcome news.

Multiply this across the multiple arrays common in larger organizations, and the potential for savings is considerable. Although much of the energy efficiency discussion in the datacenter has been focused on servers, the reality is that storage arrays also have a part to play in making the data center more eco friendly, especially considering these assets sometimes remain active long after servers of the same vintage have been retired/refreshed.

Overall, these announcements serve notice that the folks in Hopkinton remain focused not only on driving the market for their products, but also incorporating the best of what the market has to offer into their solutions. Whether this is through internal innovation, M&A activity, or incorporating state-of-the-art building blocks, it is clear that EMC is ready and willing to bring its competitive strengths to bear in its quest to be the assumed leader in delivering Information Infrastructure technology.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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