EMC Tuesday is set to launch the Clariion CX4 Series of midrange storage arrays, which include extra storage capacity, virtual provisioning tools and the ability to swap out physical spinning disks for solid-state disk drives.
The new family includes four models: the 120TB CX4-120, the 240TB CX4-240, the 480TB CX4-480 and the 960TB CX4-960. Barry Ader, senior director of storage product marketing at EMC, said the CX4-480 and CX4-960 are the first Clariion products to support flash drives.
At the EMC user conference in May, company officials outlined plans to work aggressively to drive down the price of flash memory by offering it as an option on several storage arrays. In January, the storage vendor had already announced plans to offer optional solid-state technology for its high-end DMX Symmetrix arrays.
EMC is using flash disks from STEC Inc. for both the Clariion and Symmetrix product lines, Ader said.
Ader said EMC's new CX4 product line offers twice the storage capacity, cache memory and logical unit numbers of its predecessor, the CX3 product family, due to its new 64-bit operating system that runs multicore Intel processors.
The CX4 line also offers dual-protocol support for Fibre Channel and iSCSI and allows storage administrators to implement additional I/O port connectivity for either protocol without shutting down the system, said Ader. Further, the revamped Clariion line is designed to support future connectivity technologies such as 8Gbit/sec. Fibre Channel, Fibre Channel over Ethernet and 10Gbit/sec. iSCSI, he said.
The Clariion CX4 Series is currently available from EMC, Dell Inc. and other resellers, EMC said. Optional flash drive and virtual provisioning tools will be available in October. Pricing starts at US$31,000 for five 146GB drives on the CX4-120.
Alisa Phelps, networking analyst for Forsyth County in North Carolina, has been testing the new CX4-120 and CX4-240 arrays since May and said she expects that the "modularity" will help the government expand storage capacity or move to speedier protocols as needed at lower costs.
"If I need another Fibre Channel port, I can just pop out a module and pop one in," said Phelps. "It certainly gives us more flexibility. You don't have to completely design your own environment today hoping you get it right two years down the road." She hopes to put the new CX4 products into production before the end of this year.
Forsyth County currently runs 63TB of storage on two mirrored Clariion CX600 storage arrays. The county runs 75 Microsoft Windows Servers as well as some HP-UX and Linux servers. The county first installed Clariion systems four years ago in an effort to get faster response times for Oracle database transactions. Phelps said the new CX4 products help her IT staff to better allocate storage through new virtual-provisioning tools, and to speed database requests.
The new CX4 models also include power-saving features like adaptive cooling to shut off or slow down fans as needed, and policy-based drive spin-down. The CX4 products also include new remote replication and encryption capabilities, Ader noted.
Mark Peters, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said EMC has done well to help organizations cut costs and consolidate IT architectures by combining multiple storage needs into a single box. "I don't think it's the individual items that constitute interest in this box; most of them are available in some form from someone. The interesting thing to me is they're all coming at once in one package, which is what [storage administrators] want," said Peters.
Peters said that he expects other vendors to join EMC in offering solid-state options for corporate use despite continued skepticism about the technology by IT managers due to its immaturity and high costs. "I think people are still a little concerned about solid state," he added.