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EMC pads out its software line-up

Feb 02, 20063 mins
Data Center

* Information Lifecycle Management is still key to EMC's future plans

EMC’s big announcement of last week re-emphasized the fundamental role that Information Lifecycle Management will play as a part of the company’s growth strategy. The high-end DMX-3 represents the top tier of EMC’s ILM offering, with the inclusion of lower-cost Fiber drives provided as a second tier of storage in the same cabinet. EMC actually positions the DMX-3 as a three-tier machine, with drives running at 15,000, 10,000 and 7,200 RPM (using RAID 1 for the first tier, and RAID 5 for the others), but I’ll leave it to you to decide if that is a practical distinction.

The point though, is that if you want to make the distinction and consolidate everything in one cabinet or series of cabinets, you can.

Now a point of clarification: Please note my use of the term “lower-cost,” not “low-cost,” when I refer to the slower drives. Qualifying lower performance Fibre Channel drives for use in the DMX-3 system typically adds significant cost to them – although it clearly adds value too. It is unlikely you will see the same prices for these as you will see from the “street versions.”

But ILM is fundamentally a software solution. Did EMC announce some useful offerings from the software side of the house as well? Yes, but for that we’ll have to move off the DMX-3 and look at some of the company’s other storage lines.

EMC is making major strides in IP-based storage. Its acquisition of Rainfinity last year was clearly a strategic move. Not only did EMC inherit Rainfinity’s network-attached storage-based file virtualization technology, but also the global namespace management capability that was part of last week’s announcement.

The Rainfinity software is delivered as an appliance that drops into heterogeneous environments, operating essentially as a “management plug-in” so managers can control a mixed pool of Windows-, Linux- and Unix-based storage through a single control panel. Because it understands the virtual (as well as physical) attach points, it performs a key role in tracking and managing dynamically shifting data as the data moves between storage tiers.

For you Celerra lovers the company announced its Multi-Path File System and MPFSi for iSCSI, which removes gateway and other file system protocols and allows direct iSCSI access to data. Up to 4-times performance improvement is promised. This comes about partly because of the direct iSCSI access, partly because of intelligent selection of correct data paths, and partly due to an intelligent caching system on the client side to provide pre-fetch intelligence and thus further ratchet up the speed.

No mention was made of the Clariion line, but given the amount and scope of the rest of the announcement you shouldn’t read anything at all into that.

An afterthought about an interesting related point that surfaced after the general announcement: EMC now appears to be qualifying new products with Cisco switches first – this at least has been the case with the MPFSi rollout. If your shop uses McData or Brocade equipment, check first with the vendor to make sure that all appropriate handshaking has taken place between the new products and your switches prior to signing any checkware.