New storage wares from NetApp and EMC will boost throughput and options, analysts say

UltraScale architecture powers EMC arrays and FlexShare software drives NetApp ones. Deni Connor reports

EMC and Network Appliance have released new systems with much higher capacities than earlier models, as well as features more commonly found in high-end datacentre boxes.

The EMC Clariion UltraScale CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80 are 2Gbit/s or 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel arrays that scale to 239TB of storage, triple the capacity of previous CX storage systems.

The arrays (which Dell will also sell under an OEM arrangement) use a new architecture called UltraScale that employs a PCI Express interconnect and cache mirroring to increase bandwidth and decrease latency.

The boxes, which support fault detection, isolation and error correction, start at US$27,000 (NZ42,600).

The arrays, among the first on the market with 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel support across the storage network, should provide customers with flexibility in the datacentre, analysts say.

“This is important for a multi-tier datacentre that wants to have a mix of 2Gbit/s and 4Gbit/s devices, as well as low-cost Fibre Channel drives,” says David Reine, senior analyst at the Clipper Group.

Network Appliance’s new FAS6030 and 6070 systems also support 2Gbit/s and 4Gbit/s Fibre Channel and can be used in storage-area networks (SANs) or as iSCSI or network-attached storage (NAS) devices. They max out at 500TB of capacity — five times that of the FAS980, which the FAS6030 replaces. They are designed for sites that operate large-scale Oracle, SAP and Microsoft applications.

They support as many as 500 SATA (serial advanced technology attachment) or Fibre Channel disks and have as many as 16 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

The arrays use software called FlexShare to maintain consistent performance for workloads. The systems support a full range of high availability and disaster recovery options, such as policy-based storage provisioning, double parity RAID and snapshot recovery of data.

Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst with Forrester Research, says the new boxes should give Network Appliance a chance to work its way into more datacentres. “It will enable Network Appliance to be ... more regularly included in the list of top choices for mid-tier arrays with the likes of the Dell/EMC CX series, the HP Enterprise Virtual Array 8000 and the IBM DS4800,” she says.

The Network Appliance series differs from the EMC Clariion, IBM and HP arrays in that the FAS (fabric-attached storage) products also support attachment to a network via Gigabit Ethernet. “The unified SAN and NAS capabilities are a major differentiator,” she says. Mid-range arrays from EMC, IBM and HP only support iSCSI and Fibre Channel.

Martin Cooper, chief technology officer at Arup, an international engineering consultancy in London, plans to buy the new Network Appliance arrays. “The increased capacity and performance are key for us,” says Cooper, who runs Oracle, SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange on Network Appliance gear.

He is also keen on Network Appliance’s new FlexShare technology: “If we can vary the priority given to workloads, and adjust them as necessary, we can do it with one infrastructure, not two. If we have a voice application, we can prioritise it across our network.”

IBM is expected to rebrand and resell the FAS6000 family under its manufacturing agreement with Network Appliance.

The FAS6030 starts at US$132,000; the larger capacity 6070 starts at US$196,000.

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