Self-serve upgrades give EMC storage tools the edge

EMC Corp., of Massachusetts hopes to trump big league competitors IBM Corp., and Hewlett-Packard Development Company, LP with a new line of storage management products that gives users greater freedom in doing their own upgrades.

Released recently, the Clariion UltraScale CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80 reportedly have a capacity range of 59 to 239 terabytes (TB), command faster response time than systems offered by IBM and HP, and are about five to 10 per cent cheaper.

David Donatelli, EMC executive vice president for storage platforms operations, said the CX3 series will generate savings by allowing users to “self-install upgrades and mix-and-match disk drives to meet their business needs.”

Warren Shiau, senior associate and lead analyst for The Strategic Counsel in Toronto, however, believes the big draw for potential customers will be the product’s focus on self service. “It’s very encouraging to find that EMC is offering self-service templates that allow users to carry out more do-it-yourself work.”

Shiau said customers have long been “beholden to vendors” because upgrades and other work on the system could only be done by the developers of the system. “It’s good to see that EMC is moving away from that (system) and opening up the market.”

William Hurleyr, senior analyst for the Data Mobility Group in Portland, Ore., agrees.

“The modularity of the CX3 series allows customers to troubleshoot and replace drives, controllers, fans and almost any component. It translates to great savings and is a very appealing feature,” Hurleyr said.

Hurleyr said another advantage of the series is the ability to transmit data at four gigabits per second end-to-end. “Other systems in the market come with backend apparatus like switches, loops and controllers that bottleneck data flow because they do not support four-gigs-per-second transmissions.”

In a performance graph released by EMC, the CX3-80 took 250 milliseconds to conduct 60,000 transactions. The graph showed IBM’s DS 4800 data storage product carrying out over 27,000 transactions per minute; and HP’s EVA 8000 unit covering just a bit less for the same amount of time.

“With the ability to stack up to 480 disk and store 239 terabytes, we have the highest storage capacity in mid-market,” said Jay Krone, director of Clariion product marketing. Krone said the CX3 series “is priced about five to 10 per cent lower than other mid-market systems.”

The lower-end CX3-20 with starting price of about US$ 27,000 per unit has a four gigabyte (GB) cache. It could be loaded with up to 120 disks and have a maximum capacity of 59 TB. It is ideal for mail messaging, departmental applications and databases.

The CX3-40 starts at US$ 452,000. It has an eight GB cache, takes up to 240 disks with 119 TB total capacities. The unit is suited for heavy databases, transactional workloads, video streaming and remote replication.

The top end CX3-80 is priced at US$ 101,000 to over US$ 1 million. It has a 16 GB cache, can take up to 480 disks and has a maximum capacity of 239 TB. It is ideal for tiered storage, backup-to-disk and heavy data warehousing.

“Customers will be able to either upgrade their CX3 unit or use it side by side with another CX3 unit,” Krone said.

The system is also backwards compatible with previous EMC units.

“EMC has the lead in the market until other companies roll out the improvements to their own products. I hope other vendors take the cue and offer more self-service features,” Shiau said.

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