EMC touts latest in line of midrange arrays

In its ongoing move to sink its teeth into the midrange array marketplace, EMC Corp. Monday announced the latest in a line of 2Gbps Fibre Channel arrays, a follow-on to its first new midrange array announced in August.

The Clariion CX400 server follows the CX600 and supports the same software platform as past Clariion servers while sporting a maximum data bandwidth of 680MB/sec. and up to 4.4TB of storage capacity. That compares with 17.5TB for the CX600 and 21.7TB for EMC’s first midrange array, the FC4700.

EMC said it also plans to announce a CX200 array in the near future. The CX series supports the following operating systems: Windows NT and 2000, Solaris, Netware, Linux, IBM AIX, HP-UX, Tru64 Unix and SGI Irix.

Unlike EMC’s monolithic high-end Symmetrix array, the Clariion CX family is modular in that it shares a common architecture, components and operating system along with interchangeable drives with other Clariion models. All of the arrays also use the same storage management software, which includes Navisphere, SnapView, MirrorView and Access Logix.

“We think the industry and market demands modular, reusable packaging. Think of them as Lego blocks,” said Chuck Hollis, EMC’s vice-president of platforms marketing. Hollis emphasized the box’s RAID controllers, which carry Intel chip technology.

Through its partnership with Intel, Hollis said, EMC gets great price performance and technology updates and benefits from one of the industry’s largest R&D budgets.

Dell Computer Corp. will be a major reseller of the CX series. It will position the EMC products for its customers but will also target IBM and HP customers “with some very focused displacement programs,” said Russell Bailey, manager of Dell/EMC Product Management.

Dell sees the box being used as a platform for multimedia and video streaming, Microsoft Exchange clustering, medium-size Oracle and SQL databases, and customer support systems in both storage-area network and direct-attached storage environments.

The CX400 list price starts at US$66,000 for 180GB raw capacity. That price includes installation, services, warranty and Navisphere Manager software.

Before EMC introduced the CX line, the company’s Clariion arrays suffered lackluster sales because the sales force was focused on the Symmetrix line. Clariion was also among the first in the Fibre Channel marketplace and, as a result, it suffered interoperability problems and other bugs, said Arun Taneja, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass.

“The advantage [of being a forerunner] is they ended up producing a pretty solid product,” Taneja said, referring to the CX series.

Modular arrays – boxes that can be coupled together for increased capacity while appearing as a single server – will increasingly steal market share from monolithic boxes such as EMC’s Symmetrix, IBM Corp.’s Shark or Hitachi Data Systems Corp.’s Lightning because they offer a better entry price and better performance, Taneja said.

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