EMC Mixes ATA With Fibre Channel In Clariion Arrays

Each module, available for EMC's Clariion CX400 and CX600 arrays, holds up to 15 250-Gbyte ATA hard drives. The modules can be mixed and matched with Fibre Channel drive modules, making Clariions the only arrays that allow both types of drives to be used in the same box, said Chuck Hollis, vice president of storage platform marketing at EMC, based here.

One of the Holy Grails of the storage industry is improving access to data stored offline, which adds up to about 10 times the volume of data stored online, Hollis said. "Customers wish they could back up their data faster and have it available online, but they don't want to pay the cost of Fibre Channel," he said.

By allowing both Fibre Channel and ATA hard drives to co-exist in a Clariion array, EMC makes it easier for customers to replicate data locally and remotely using storage management tools from EMC and other software vendors, Hollis said. "[Customers can now] provision the array, map applications and curve out [logical unit numbers] on both the Fibre Channel and ATA drives," he said, adding that while Fibre Channel and ATA hard drive modules can be mixed and matched now within Clariion arrays, the two types of hard drives cannot be combined within modules.

Since ATA hard drives cost significantly less than Fibre Channel-based offerings, they can move less mission-critical data from tape to disk, Hollis said.

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An ATA module with a maximum capacity of 15 250-Gbyte hard drives, or about 3.75 Tbytes of raw capacity, carries a list price of about $38,500, so the cost per Mbyte is about 1 cent. Compare that with a Fibre Channel module that has 15 146-Mbyte hard drives and costs about 4 cents per Mbyte, he said. In large configurations, an ATA-based Clariion would cost about one-half of a Fibre Channel-based version. Individual 250-Gbyte ATA hard drives can be purchased for about $1,500 each.

On the other hand, ATA drives are not for everyone, Hollis said. Their performance is about one-quarter that of Fibre Channel drives, and ATA offerings have yet to be as reliable as their Fibre Channel counterparts, he said.

Legacy CX400 and CX600 arrays can be upgraded for ATA with the addition of ATA modules, but that upgrade is not available for CX200 arrays, Hollis said.

The ATA modules and drives are available now through Dell Computer, Fujitsu Siemens and EMC distributors.

Meanwhile, EMC Tuesday unveiled a new data copying software utility, called SAN Copy, which allows copying of entire logical volumes between any EMC arrays at up to 4 Tbytes per hour.

Hollis said the software allows solution providers and customers to move data between Symmetrix and Clariion arrays. Data could be loaded on to a Clariion from a Symmetrix array, for example, for new-application testing, he said. For data movement over longer distances, EMC has qualified SAN Copy to work with Nishan IP storage switches.