EMC to unveil iSCSI arrays

EMC is expected to up the ante in IP storage area networking next week with the introduction of several iSCSI -enabled Clariion storage arrays.

The company will introduce the AX100i, the CX300i and the CX500i storage arrays. These new iSCSI servers are not expected to replace Fibre Channel -based Clariion systems.

While their performance will be half that of their Fibre Channel counterparts -- the AX100, CX300 and CX500 -- their price will be the same. In documents obtained by IDG, EMC says the price parity between iSCSI and Fibre Channel isn't likely to ruffle any feathers -- because in the case of iSCSI, customers will not need to buy costly host bus adapters or Fibre Channel switches.

EMC is recommending that customers deploying its IP SAN products install them on segments of their networks that are isolated from Ethernet traffic. Outboard IPSec encryption hardware is also available if a customer desires.

The AX100i, CX300i and CX500i will support Gigabit Ethernet, but not 10/100M bit/sec connections.

At this time, EMC has decided not to offer iSCSI capability on its high-end Clariion array, the CX700. Further, software specific to Fibre Channel, such as MirrorView and SAN Copy, is not supported on these arrays.

The AX100i is a dual-controller version; the AX1200Sci is a single-controller version. Fibre Channel and iSCSI cannot be intermixed in the same array.

The AX100i has a maximum capacity of 12 Serial ATA drives of 250G bytes each; the CX300i has a maximum capacity of 60 Serial ATA drives of 320G bytes each; and the CX500i can support 120 Serial ATA drives of 320G bytes each. Each array can connect to Microsoft Windows 2000 or 2003 host computers.

The CX300i and CX500i also support SnapView, business-continuance volumes and point-in-time views of production data.

IP SAN adoption is increasing as users find it to be an inexpensive and easy-to-deploy technology. In the third quarter of 2004, iSCSI SANs posted 44 percent sequential growth from the previous quarter, according to IDC.

Pricing starts at US$5,000 for the AX100i; a CX300i configured with five 73G-byte drives, Navisphere management software, installation and three years of service starts at $23,860.

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