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EMC combines Clariion, Celerra line in VNX, revamps entire storage line

Lucas Mearian | Jan. 18, 2011
Data storage company also announces its first rebranded products from its Isilon Systems acquisition

EMC's VNX7500 comes in at the upper end of EMC's midrange storage offerings. The VNX7500 scales to 1,000 drives or 2 petabytes of capacity, using a variety of storage formats, including solid-state drives (SSD), serial SCSI (SAS) and serial ATA (SATA). EMC claims the array has three times the performance of previous generations of Clariion or Celerra arrays.

The VNX5000 and 7000 series, which is based on Intel's Xeon 5600 multicore processor, comes with EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering Virtual Provisioning (FAST-VP) software. In 2009, EMC began offering its FAST technology, which automates the movement of data onto either SSDs, SAS or SATA drives, depending on the type of data and frequency of use, across its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra lines of storage arrays.

The VNX5000 systems take the place of the Clariion CX4-480, CX4-240, CX4-120 and Clariion AX4 and Celerra NS-480 and NS-120 storage systems. It holds 75 to 500 drives and up to 1PB of capacity.

EMC claimed its new VNX line is the only storage system on the market that offers automated file and block sub-LUN tiering using its FAST technology. NetApp claimed EMC has simply wrapped "sheet metal" around the Clariion and Celerra hardware and that the underlying operating systems are still disparate.

"If this is a dark controller in a box and you can migrate data between the data stores, it's not that interesting. Customers are looking for a single, homogeneous storage pool that they can carve up via block and NAS protocols," said Patrick Rogers, NetApp's vice president of corporate alliances.

VNX includes both Clariion's Flare and Celerra's Dart operating systems, but EMC was not forthcoming about whether those systems have been integrated or required some form of translation engine. According to Mark Peters, an analyst at market research firm ESG, EMC's operating systems remain separate and distinct.

"I think the bigger story is the fact that, irrespective of how they're doing it, the whole marketplace will do a unified discussion," Peters said, referring to the unification of SAN and NAS protocols on a single array.

ESG analyst Brian Babineau said EMC must prove its unified storage claims.

"EMC has some checked some boxes and NetApp has checked some boxes [on an IT manager's needs list], but at the end of the day, having the ability to connect all workloads, maintain performance and not worry about which disk drives your data is on is what matters," he said. "Are we going to get into battles as to what makes a system truly unified? Yes."


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