EMC Adds Dedupe, VMware To Celerra Family

The new Celerras also include plug-ins to help them integrate better into VMware server virtualization environments, said Brad Bunce, director of IP storage marketing at EMC.

"We're driving down customers' storage costs," Bunce said.

The four new Celerras, including three models based on EMC's Clariion line of midrange arrays as well as a gateway appliance with no integrated storage, are unified storage offerings that support simultaneous NAS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel connectivity.

The appliances for the first time include EMC's Avamar deduplication and RecoverPoint compression technologies in a single appliance, Bunce said.

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Deduplication, also called "dedupe," removes duplicate information as data is backed up or archived. It can be done at the file level, where duplicate files are replaced with a marker pointing to one copy of the file, and/or at the subfile or byte level, where duplicate bytes of data are removed and replaced by pointers, resulting in a significant decrease in storage capacity requirements.

If both features are turned on, the appliances will compress all files with low activity to save space, and then also dedupe the files to eliminate redundancies, Bunce said. This is done on a customer-set schedule, and not in realtime, in order to not impact operations, he said.

The dedupe is done at the file level since the process is being done with inactive data where files are seldom accessed once they are written and can be done in conjunction with EMC's Rainfinity file management appliance for automated tiered storage, Bunce said.

"For customers, there are not changes in how they open, move, snapshot or backup their files," he said. "But it gives them automated storage tiering so they can create a pool to which older files are dumped while active files are kept in a higher-performance tier."

The new Celerras also take advantage of two relatively new drive technologies, Bunce said.

The first are solid-state drives, or flash drives, which boost performance by up to 800 percent compared to rotating drives, Bunce said. EMC last year first started offering flash drives in its Symmetrix line of enterprise storage arrays.

The second are low-power SATA drives, which operate at 5,400 rpm compared to other models operating at 7,200 rpm in order to cut energy use by about 32 percent per drive, Bunce said.

Also new are VMware vCenter plug-ins, Bunce said.

They include plug-ins for VMware Site Recovery Manager automated failback to let customers coordinate a failback to their original virtual infrastructure after a failover; VMware View Storage Integration, which allows the provisioning of virtual desktops using the Celerras' snapshot feature; and VMware View Composer, which, when used with the dedupe feature, can cut storage requirements for boot images by up to 70 percent, he said.

Dave Butler, president of Enterprise Computing Solutions, a Mission Viejo, Calif.-based solution provider, said he is not surprised to see EMC expand the capabilities of its Celerra line.

"Everybody is trying to address storage as an appliance by adding more functionality," Butler said. "Companies like IBM and Hewlett-Packard are making acquisitions, not just for product lines, but to add core functionality to their own product to make them more appliance-like."

Features like virtualization and dedupe were game-changing technologies when first offered, Butler said, but are now becoming a must-have.

"How long will it take IBM or HP to do something similar?" he said. "The issues I'm dealing with are things like cloud computing and storage-as-a-service. I'm not so concerned about new products coming out now, I'm more concerned about what's coming five years from now and what I need to do to get ready."

The new Celerras are available now. The NS120 is based on the Clariion CX4-120, and scales to up to 120 hard drives. The NS480 is based on the Clariion CX4-480, and scales to up to 480 hard drives. And the NS960 is based on the Clariion CX4-960, and scales to up to 960 hard drives.

The fourth model, the NS-G8, is a storage gateway and does not have any integrated storage, but instead adds unified storage capabilities to any of EMC's Symmetrix or Clariion arrays.