Centera centres on storing content

As if there weren’t enough acronyms in the IT lexicon, EMC Corp. has entered CAS (content-addressed storage) into the fray. The term is being used by EMC to describe its new Centera solution, a software-driven, online storage architecture designed to store “fixed content” – unchanging objects such as digital x-rays, e-mail, cheque images and other electronic documents.

While location-based methods found in network attached storage (NAS) and storage attached networks (SANs) are optimized for frequently changing data, CAS is specifically designed for the requirements of fixed content, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company said.

CAS is network storage designed to provide fast and easy access to content information to companies seeking to store fixed content – including the legal, healthcare, and financial sectors, said Mike Stivaletti, area systems manager for EMC Canada in Toronto, Ont. “CAS will allow you to store that in a more efficient, redundant and quicker way of retrieving that data. The growth here is kind of like a plug-and-play…think of it as a large spider web that you continue to plug in all this storage and it replicates a mirrored image but you can expand it to a pedabyte of storage,” Stivaletki said.

The Centera software, CentraStar, incorporates a content addressing intelligence that uses an address based on the content of a stored object. In addition, the software features large-scale deployment including self-management, auto-configuration, and “non-disruptive” maintenance and upgrades, the company said.

Connected Corp., an enterprise PC life-cycle support company based in Framingham, Mass., has deployed a Centera server along side the company’s EMC Symmetrix servers to assist in the storage, back-up, and recovery needs of Connected’s thousands of clients, according to company representative Tom Hickman.

“The individual client files range in size from infinitesimal up to 4MB per archive, but we end up with about 20TB of data behind each server,” Hickman said, adding that Centera relieves Connected main storage servers from redundant file serving tasks.

Fixed content represents the next paradigm shift for IT, said Steve Duplessie, senior analyst for Enterprise Storage Group in Milford, Mass. With the Centera solution, EMC is playing in a relatively new space, one where other vendors are looking to enter, Duplessie added.

Because CAS and Centera networks improve the performance of applications by making it easier for them to access reference data faster, application developers should be eager to partner with EMC on APIs, stimulating the growth of CAS networks, Duplessie said.

Available now, pricing for the EMC Centera starts at US$101,500 for Centera hardware and US$103,200 for Centera software. EMC can be found at

– With files from IDG News Service

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