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EMC's Celerra starts smaller and gets cheaper

Entry-level replaces Fibre Channel with SAS

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Just 12 months after introducing the Celerra NS20, EMC has increased its capacity by 50 percent, and replaced its entry level role with a cheaper NX4 model.

The 6-60-drive NS20 came into the scene in July 2007 as a Clariion mixed Fibre Channel and SATA drive array topped by a Celerra NAS (network-attached storage) head also offering iSCSI and Fibre Channel access for small/medium business (SMB) and remote and branch offices (ROBO). It offered thin provisioning, snapshots, replication and a 15 minute install, and had an NS490 big brother with up to 240 drives. The Celerra product line is the leading NAS range and revenues have grown fifty percent for each of the previous two quarters. Why then is EMC revving the entry level?

It seems we must thank NetApp FAS2020 competition for helping to prompt EMC to do this. The NX4 product appears to have been designed to combat NetApp's low-end FAS2000, which has been winning award after award.

The Celerra range starting price has been cut substantially, from $32,000 for the NS20 down to $20,375 for the NX4. To achieve this, the NX4 lowers the minimum configuration from 6 to 4 drives. Fibre Channel drives are no longer on offer. Instead, customers can have either SAS (performance) or SATA (capacity) and mix them in the same shelf, saving EMC a controller. The management software has been tweaked to make provisioning simpler.

The NS20 gets its capacity upgrade to 90 Fibre Channel and/or SATA drives, meaning 90TB with 1TB SATA drives but otherwise stays the same. The NX4's capacity limits are 60TB with 60 1TB SATA drives or 18TB with 60 300GB SAS drives. Consider it a Clariion AX4 array with a Celerra head.

EMC says that channel ordering and configuration processes have also been made easier. The usual EMC partners, Dell and FSC for example, will resell the NX4. The company is not about to cede any ground in entry-level unified storage for the SMB and ROBO market sectors. It wants to stop any low-end erosion of its Celerra base and maintain growth rates. Prices have fallen. Configuration flexibility has increased and admin is easier. It's good news for customers.

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