EMC refreshes Clariion storage

New design for EMC's Clariion midrange storage offers more performance and flexibility

EMC on Monday will unveil a new design for its Clariion midrange storage aimed to give midsized businesses more performance and flexibility, and will roll out the first arrays based on the new architecture.

EMC's new Clariion UltraScale design adds end-to-end support for 4Gbps Fibre Channel technology, allows users to consolidate multiple storage tiers in one array and mix 2Gbps and 4Gbps disk drives with varying levels of speed and capacity. The UltraScale architecture also includes EMC’s Virtual LUN (logical unit number) technology, which enables data movement among various types of disk drives within the array.

EMC is offering three new midrange arrays based on the architecture: the Clariion CX3-20, which can scale to 59TB and is geared for smaller companies, or enterprises looking to support remote replication and workgroup productivity; the CX3-40, which can scale to 119TB and is geared for messaging and transactional workloads; and the CX3-80, which can scale to 239TB of capacity, support up to 480 drives and is designed for large storage consolidation efforts. The new systems double the performance and capacity of their predecessors, the Clariion CX300, CX500, and CX700, which EMC launched in 2004.

"With these three models, EMC came up with three very distinct products that appeal to different classes of business users, it's not just simply the high-end, big, old box approach," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, in Hayward, California.

The CX3 systems are backwards compatible with EMC management and replication software and configurable for direct-attach, SAN and iSCSI deployments, said EMC officials, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts.

NewRiver, a provider of compliance data technology for the financial industry, is planning to deploy the CX3-20.

In addition to the performance boost, NewRiver was attracted to the ability to intermix different disk drives in a single environment.

"We have three tiers of disk in our system: tier 1, which is our database disk and is our highest volume; tier 2 disk for our NAS portion; and tier 3, which is our cheaper disk for backups. The problem is that we have to buy a separate enclosure for the cheaper ATA disk, so when it comes time to upgrade we'd have to buy a new enclosure. But with the UltraScale, we have the ability to put the fibre disk in there, so we can intermix all the tiers of disk in the same enclosure. So when we upgrade we don't have to buy a new enclosure," said Bryan Whitehead, IT director for NewRiver, in Andover, Massachusetts.

The company is already using one of EMC's Clariion CX models to host its enterprise applications.

"The CX gives me the ability to have all the components of a larger environment at a cost-effective price," Whitehead said. "We're opting for the CX320 because we're a smaller company and although we do high volume, we don't have large amounts of data sets."

With the new architecture, EMC also sought to improve ease-of-use with a new wizard-driven Disk Replacement Utility tool that guides users through the process of replacing disk drives, power supplies and cooling fans.

EMC is banking that the new design will give its Clariion line a needed boost following a weak first quarter for the midrange storage, which EMC attributed to customer anticipation of the upcoming product launch.

Pricing for the CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80 starts at $27,000, $52,000, and $101,000, respectively, for 365GB hardware configurations. The new systems are available now.

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