EMC Launches High-End NAS

New bladed architecture and file virtualization featured in high-end Celerra gateway UPDATED 4/18 3PM

April 16, 2005

2 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) has announced the Celerra NSX NAS gateway next week, along with a general upgrade of its Celerra NAS operating system for all models.

The Celerra NSX comes in a chassis housing up to eight so-called X-blades with 16 Tbytes of storage apiece. Equipped with file system virtualization and software that supports ILM policies, it's geared to large enterprises looking to consolidate NAS.

EMC's pitching performance of 300,000 NFS operations per second for the NSX, which it claims is 70 percent faster than the vendor's preceding NAS gateway, the Celerra Network Server (CNS). This platform replaces that one, though EMC will continue to support the CNS through 2006, a spokesman says. EMC also claims it's at least 50 percent faster than competing gear.

Indeed, with this announcement, EMC hopes to take a big swipe at Network Appliance Inc. (Nasdaq: NTAP), whose recent NAS alliance with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is clearly in EMC's sights (see IBM, NetApp Ink OEM Pact).

NetApp will have none of it. Here's what Keith Brown, director of technology and strategy, had to say in an email today (Monday): "The Celerra NSX appears to be a minor hardware upgrade to EMC's old Celerra CNS box, not a 'game changing' product as the company claims." He says the NSX seems complex and expensive and points to features like thin provisioning and writeable snapshots that have been part of NetApp's products for months (see NetApp Freshens What's OnTap ).Mudslinging aside, both NetApp and EMC are still offering partial support for a key feature that users want -- global namespace, which lets users manage all stored files in a NAS as one big pool. NetApp has global namespace technology through its acquisition of Spinnaker (see NetApp Completes Spinnaker Buy), but it hasn't yet completed the integration that will put it on most of its NAS gear. While EMC still doesn't have global namespace for the entire NAS, the vendor has expanded the space in which large clumps of files can be managed as one virtual entity. With CNX, virtual files can be 16 Tbtyes, whereas previously they were limited to about 2 Tbytes.

Despite what's still missing, EMC's announcement ups expectations and could accelerate the race for upper-end NAS. In particular, its software features, if they perform as claimed, could prove compelling to enterprise customers. These include the ability to consolidate multiple file systems (up to 2,000 per NSX), system status monitoring and replication management in the GUI, and support for automatic porting of storage to various locations by characteristic -- i.e., "tiered" storage.

What's not to love? Well, there's the price: $278,250 for a four-port system. EMC's performance claims also must be weighed against those of its competitors and sifted for value ratios. Stay tuned for more information.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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