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No Product Family Left Behind in EMC Refresh

EMC is unveiling a raft of new hardware systems and software enhancements spanning its entire product family, showcasing a more unified approach to managing and storing data than it has in the past.

EMC Vice President of Marketing Chuck Hollis said the company decided to pull the covers off of the new products, which span the Symmetrix, Clariion Celerra and Centera lines, all at once because of the storage systems vendor's "rapid innovation cycle."

But it is also indicative of EMC's goal to present its products in a more unified manner to support its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy from managing data, from its creation through archiving and to its disposal. This is EMC's challenge to competitors in the storage space, including IBM, HP, and Hitachi Data Systems.

Picking up where it left off with its Symmetrix line unveiled one year ago, EMC's Hollis said Symmetrix DMX-2 offers twice the performance of the inaugural DMX product as well as more memory.

While doubling the performance is expected in this age of rapidly increasing storage needs, Hollis said the company is by no means asking customers to shed their original DMX storage boxes: DMX-2 also features "data-in-place," or backwards compatibility to accommodate previous DMX systems.

Specs of DMX-2 include the use of IBM's 1 gigahertz PowerPC processors; 32GB global memory directors -- doubling the DMX cache to 256 GB; support for 73GB Fibre Channel disk drives; and multi-array support for EMC's SRDF/A long distance replication technology.

EMC also added important native mainframe connectivity for its Centera content addressed storage software, which allows EMC to better cover fixed-content digital assets stored in mainframes and enables the company to compete better with IBM. It features new Centera application programming interface (API) support for IBM's z/OS mainframes.

As if twice the performance at the same cost and wide-scale backwards comptability aren't enough -- EMC wants to ensure investment protection -- the company also moved to put competitive pressure on chief rival IBM with the debut of new replication software called AutoSwap.

Geared to help move data and applications from mainframe to mainframe, AutoSwap is EMC's answer to IBM's Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex, which EMC described as too costly and complex for customers.

AutoSwap works in conjunction with EMC's Synchronous Remote Distance Facility (SRDF) mirroring technology to move applications and data transparently and without disruption, while keeping a current copy at the original site.

EMC is also replacing its mid-tier Clariion CX line, which include the CX200, CX400, and CX600 machines, with the CX300, CX500 and CX700 models, respectively. All offer higher performance at the same price.

They are: the CX300, an entry-point product targeted for workgroup environments; the CX500 is designed for applications that require more horsepower and remote replication; and the CX700, which handles a full mid-tier load.

"The biggest news to me with the new Clariion line is the added Unix-support for the low-end CX300," said Enterprise Storage Analyst Peter Gerr in a recent interview. "The CX200 previously support Windows, Linux and NetWare but adding Unix support lets IT administrators support mixed environments and enables EMC to attract additional OEM or reseller partners, which are Unix-centric."

Moreover, EMC has added new replication software features, which offer more local and remote replications at reduced cost, Hollis said. This includes improved SAN Copy data mobility software to offer a copy function one at a time, and SnapView Integration Modules in order to automate backup and recovery in Microsoft environments.

Concurrently with this announcement, Dell, which enjoys a fruitful partnership with EMC, is also selling the machines branded as Dell/EMC CX300, CX500 and CX700. The CX300 is manufactured by Dell.

The new storage arrays are supported by the Navisphere Manager Suite, a new single management console that works with previous Dell/EMC systems. The Round Rock, Texas company also unveiled a Storage Advisor tool to help customers determine which Dell solutions to purchase.

EMC has whipped up a NAS Gateway, which essentially makes it possible to use SAN and NAS storage out of the same box. The new Celerra NS700G offers tiered storage options and the Celerra NS700 Integrated NAS is the first integrated NAS product that offers an upgrade path to a gateway configuration.

"With the NS700G supporting CLARiiON and Symmetrix, an even broader set of customers can easily and cost-effectively bring NAS into their business environments and take better advantage of existing SAN investments," said Sageza Research Group Director Charles King.