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EMC paints go-faster stripes on Celerra

De-duplication, flash and SSD, oh my

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EMC will announce a souped-up Celerra product line with capacity upgrades, file-level de-duplication and flash solid state drive (SSD) options later this quarter in a direct charge at NetApp's FAS3000 line.

Celerra, originally a NAS filer, is EMC's unified storage range offering Fibre Channel and iSCSI block-level access, NFS and CIFS NAS access, and has EMC's MPFS (Multi-Pathing File System) to speed NAS operations. It runs the DART O/S on X-Blade controllers attached to Storage Processing Enclosures which hold Fibre Channel or SATA disk drives. This means you can grow performance and capacity independently.

The existing 2008 Celerra range transitions to the 2009 lineup, based on Clariion CX4 and AX4 storage components, like this:

- 60-drive NX4 remains with its integrated Clariion AX4 storage backend. SAS and SATA drives are available
- 90-drive NS20 becomes 120-drive NS-120 supporting 10 - 20 servers
- 240-drive NS40 becomes 480-drive NS-480 with more capacity, flash drives and tiered storage, supporting 20 - 50 servers
- NS40G (gateway) remains
- 480-drive NS80 becomes 960-drive NS-960 with more capacity, flash drives, tiered storage and more IP ports, supporting more than 50 servers
- NS80G and NSX become the NS-G8 with higher performance and more ports, using Clariion or Symmetrix arrays, and supporting over 50 servers.

Flash drive support via Symmetrix or Clariion storage arrays under a Celerra NSG (gateway) 'head' is available now. 1TB SATA drives are supported providing 120, 240 or 960TB maximum capacity as appropriate. The Register expects these capacity limits to double when 2TB SATA drive support becomes available.

EMC is also adding a combination of file level de-duplication or single instancing, using Avamar technology, and RecoverPoint compression, to the new Celerra. It is avoiding block-level de-duplication because of the controller overhead and because, it reckons, a combination of single instance files and compression provides the best value, offering an average, EMC believes, of 30-40 per cent savings on capacity use.

Compression and de-dupe features, positioned as primary-level file storage space saving, are only applied to files with low activity patterns.

NetApp's ASIS de-duplication also applies to primary storage and is block-level. EMC advises that Celerra de-duplication not be used for iSCSI or block-level access applications, and neither VMware nor Oracle over NAS, presumably because of performance considerations. It's best used for home directories, file shares and file system archiving.

The high-end NS-G8, like the NS-960, can have two to eight controller blades, six UltraFlex I/O slots per blade and up to four storage arrays using Clariion or Symmetrix arrays. The maximum capacity is 128TB per blade and 896TB overall. UltraFlex is EMC's I/O technology that allows support for future protocols such as FCoE to be added by inserting a blade or card.

Fibre Channel drives are suggested for high performance with 1TB SATA drives available for the lowest cost and lowest energy use storage. There is no support for SAS drives except with the NX4.

The new Celerra family offers file system archiving with a compliance option, similar to NetApp's SnapLock. This will prevent file system deletions with locked files and has other features compliant with SEC RUle 17a-4(f). This Celerra archiving and compliance is differentiated from Centera which is for fixed content archiving using Content-Addressed Storage (CAS). Whether this distinction will hold is open to question.

EMC positions Celerra against NetApp's FAS2000 and FAS3000 systems. Specifically the NS-120 Dual (as in dual controllers we guess) is said to have a three per cent TCO (total cost of ownership) advantage over the FAS2050A, the NS-480 DUAL a 22 per cent TCO advantage compared to the FAS3140A, and the NS-960 Dual a 15 per cent TCO advantage over the FAS3170A.

There is no pricing or availability information available. EMC had no comment to make about these supposed new products. ®

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