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EMC to converge CLARiiON and Celerra arrays

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EMC is about to converge its CLARiiON and Celerra arrays into a new V-CX product, according to a pair of sources with knowledge of the situation.

This will be presented as virtualised unified storage with new levels of VMware integration, the sources say.

The product will apparently come with iSCSI and FCoE block access and possibly physical Fibre Channel too. File access will be through the usual suspects: NFS and CIFS.

CLARiiON CX4 users will have a transition path to the V-CX. The separate Celerra product line will remain available but its longer term direction is one of disappearance into the V-CX product set and end-of-life as a separate product. The need for Celerra to remain available is possibly there because full Celerra functionality won't be in the V-CX on day one, being deliverable in later releases.

The V-CX will have a VMware code underpinning, and it will run the CLARiiON's FLARE operating system as well as the Celerra's DART O/S. There will be one or more controllers in a V-CX array with N+1 failover between them. These controllers will be clustered.

Sources are also saying that V-CX arrays can be configured for N+1 failover between them. The arrays will be clusterable and federated, through V-Plex

A V-CX array will come with both hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD). It can grow performance by having controllers added and grow capacity by adding either or both HDDs and SSDs. Such scaling can be done on demand. Upgrading a V-CX with drive shelves, controllers, the O/S software and firmware is claimed to be transparent.

The announcement timetable, the one we have seen, looks quite aggressive. There may be some kind of early or pre-announcement in the week after Easter. EMC World takes place in the USA in May and more might be said about it there. The first general availability would be in June, possibly even May, with fuller featured availability three months later in the fourth quarter, possibly October.

Stifel Niklaus analyst Aaron Rakers says he is expecting the CLARiiON refresh to take place in the third quarter or early second half. This would be about two years since the CX4 model was introduced.

Converging CLARiiON and Celerra is an interesting tactic in that EMC is arriving at the place where NetApp exists now. NetApp started with filers and added SAN access to them, creating its unified FAS storage arrays running Data ONTAP. Now EMC is taking its block access CLARiiON array technology and adding in the Celerra filer/iSCSI functionality to create its own single unified storage line.

We can also see a similarity here with HP's expected direction of having multiple array personalities on a single basic storage hardware set, such as EVA, LeftHand, and Ibrix.

There is another piece to this puzzle in that EMC is developing a UbFS file system, one that will underpin both block and file access to its storage arrays. UbFS is a provisional name and it is a follow-on from Celerra's UxFS file system. We're hearing that UbFS has a 758KB chunk size, the same as the sub-LUN size in FAST 2. This filesystem is said to be a prerequisite for FAST2, EMC's automated data moving software from array tiering.

A V-CX would fit nicely, in EMC product naming terms, alongside the Symmetrix V-Max and the coming V-Plex array federalising box. Everything is coming up virtual.

One piece of uncertainty is that we haven't found any reference to an EMC V-CX trademark, which we did with V-Plex. So the drum messages could be virtual hogwash.

EMC declined to comment. ®

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