Clariion Refresh Could Trigger New SAN Trend

EMC has once again retooled its Clariion midrange storage system — but this time with a twist. In addition to bulking up capacity, the CX4 series includes built-in advanced features such as virtual provisioning, flash drives, improved network connectivity and enhanced disaster-recovery options.

While the new series announced today doubles the capacity of the two-year-old CX3 series, which the vendor will continue selling, it’s the add-ins traditionally found in EMC’s (NYSE: EMC) higher-end systems that could prove compelling to small and midsize enterprises needing faster, more efficient and easier-to-manage storage arrays.

“Our customers want innovation as well as capacity and investment protection,” Barry Ader, senior director of storage product marketing, EMC, told “Not only does this scale from the small to big enterprises, it provides new levels of performance on a next-generation architecture,” Ader said.

Enterprises scrambling to store and protect growing data piles want more room in more cost-effective and more energy-efficient network storage, according to industry pundits. EMC’s product enhancements illustrate a new trend in network storage development, according to one industry analyst.

“This series signals to the market that it’s not just about upgrading or making something cheaper or faster,” Ben Woo, analyst at IDC, told “This series indicates that vendors have to think about where the industry is going,” Woo said.

Or, in simpler terms, the CX4 series is a wake-up call to longtime competitors such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), whose systems offer similar capacities but who either don’t offer high-end options or charge extra for advanced options.

The four new NAS additions to the 16-year-old Clariion line extend capacity from 480 to 960 drives. The addition of UltraFlex lets enterprises connect to future connectivity technologies including 8 gigabit per second (Gb/sec) Fibre Channel, 10Gb/sec iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet when needed without having to shut down the system.

The addition of solid state disks, or flash drives, promise to improve and increase performance. EMC initiallydeployed the technology in its Symmetrix DMX-4 last January.

The inclusion of spin-down capabilities can help companies reduce operational costs by putting inactive drives in sleep mode to save energy.

The CX4 architecture is optimized for EMC’s five-year-old VMware, providing administrators an ability to over provision storage resources which can thwart runaway applications from hitting a brick wall when it comes to utilization. Virtualization lets enterprises create one pool of storage across a fragmented infrastructure. The technology had previously been available only in EMC’s Celerra family and the high-end Symmetrix product lines.

The addition of EMC’s RecoverPoint technology, which had always been an add-on option, is now a built-in option, providing easier deployment when pulled in as a disaster-recovery tool.

“What we’ve done is leveraged technologies we only had offered in high-end products and provided it to the mid-tier customer,” Ader explained.

“The goal is to help customers save money, while allowing a higher level of performance and availability all while reducing energy costs. All these benefits provide a tremendous amount of technology advantage,” Ader said.

The CX4 series is comprised of four models ranging from 120 disk drives to 960 drives, topping off at a total capacity of 951 terabytes, 32 gigabytes of memory and up to 24 Fibre Channel and or 16 iSCSi ports.

“This is a very sound package,” Mark Peters, analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, told “There’s not a lot to criticize.”

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