EMC Cultivates Clariion

EMC opts for finer functionality, but analysts say it isn't breaking any new ground

August 4, 2005

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

When EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) upgraded its enterprise Symmetrix systems last week, it concentrated on speeds and feeds” without doing much for functionality (see EMC Swells Its High End). EMC took a different approach with the new midrange Clariion systems announced today -- beefing up functionality while keeping the capacity and throughput the same (see EMC Upgrades Clariion).

The new systems -- the Clariion CX 300-s, CX 500-s, and CX 700-s -- include a new disk enclosure architecture for point-to-point connectivity between controllers and drives and software enhancements. They're intended to replace the CX 300, 500, and 700 models. The "s" is for scale.

Barry Ader, EMC’s director of Clariion marketing, says Clariion customers had enough capacity to grow into but need help managing that growth. “As systems get larger, they get more complex,” he says. “Customers have more to manage.”

Clariion was due for an upgrade. It has been 18 months since EMC last spruced it up, and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), and Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) have all announced midrange upgrades since April (see EMC Hits Hardware Refresh, IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s), Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout, and HP Plans EVA Facelift).

The biggest change in Clariion is the point-to-point disk array enclosures with drive-level fault detection, isolation, and diagnosis capabilities. EMC calls this UltraPoint Technology, and it replaces Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop (FC-AL). Industry buzz says EMC is using Emulex Corp. (NYSE: ELX) embedded switches in the enclosures, but EMC denies this. Ader says the alteration comes mostly from updates to EMC's Flare operating system with minor architectural changes.Other enhancements include:

  • Virtual LUNs (logical unit numbers) that allow customers to move volumes from one drive to another within a Clariion array without interrupting the application. This feature allows moving of data between Fibre Channel and SATA drives within an array for tiered storage.

  • MirrorView and SnapView software that supports consistency groups, so the software synchronizes volumes while copying data. This had been possible with Symmetrix, but not Clariion. Also, EMC’s VMware server virtualization software now works with MirrorView and SnapView.

  • Upgraded SANCopy software to SanCopy/E, which moves data between Clariion CX systems in the data center and low-end AX100 systems in remote sites.

  • Built-in DC power support, which allows organizations such as telcos, the military, and gas and oil exploration firms to use a Clariion on battery power in remote areas.

Analysts say the features are nice, but nothing groundbreaking. For instance, Engenio Information Technologies Inc. supports virtualized LUNs within a controller, and the HP EVA system uses a disk architecture similar to EMC’s UltraPoint.

“These are excellent things to have, but none of them is a barn burner,” says analyst Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group.

What EMC hasn't announced yet includes new features in other midrange systems such as 4-Gbit/s support and the ability to mix Fibre Channel and iSCSI in the same system.

Ader says customers that want to use Fibre Channel and iSCSI together can connect systems with multiprotocol switches. As for 4-Gbit/s, he says it’s a long way from being ready for prime time. Although 4-Gbit/s switches and HBAs are out, no hard drives support 4-Gbit/s yet.“When the market has quality, 4-Gig, end-to-end components that are tested, that’s when you’ll see a 4-Gig system from EMC,” he says. “Anybody announcing 4-Gig now is pre-announcing products.”

IBM, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) (NYSE: SGI), and Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) ship midrange systems with 4-Gbit/s support, all coming from OEM deals with Engenio. However, newer midrange systems from HP, Hitachi, and now EMC are 2-Gbit/s systems (see IBM Drives 4-Gbit/s), Hitachi Plans Midrange Rollout, and HP Plans EVA Facelift).

EMC did improve speeds and feeds on its Clariion Disk Library virtual tape systems, upgrading the emulation engine and expanding capacity on the two existing models and adding two dual-engine systems.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights