EMC has announced an upgrade to its entire line of Celerra network attached storage (NAS) systems, saying it will now offer solid-state disks (SSDs) and file-level data de-duplication on the arrays and its gateway device.

The upgraded arrays include the NS-120, NS-480, NS-960 and NS-G8 NAS Gateway appliance, which attaches to a Clariion or Symmetrix storage array to offer file-level data storage using NFS or CIFS protocols.

The upgrades include data de-duplication for primary file systems and end user file data in VMware and other virtualised environments. The de-duplication feature is a single-click startup operation with automated policies and is fully integrated into Celerra Manager software free of charge. EMC claims that by eliminating redundant data, it can reduce file system capacity up to 50 percent.

The NAS boxes now offer management tools for VMware environments such as VMware View Storage Integration, a VMware vCenter plug-in that helps administrators more quickly provision thousands of virtual desktops leveraging Celerra's snapshot features and VMware View Composer.

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany uses multiple Celerra NS systems for its files services, VMware and Oracle and Exchange server environments. The school beta tested the new Celerra Data De-duplication feature.

Uli Betzler, senior storage architect at KIT, said the Celerra data de-duplication feature reduced the primary data in his file service environment by 25 percent, while improving overall system performance.

"Many of the files stored on the Celerra are large and de-duplication will result in cost savings for the KIT with the benefit of faster access to the files," he said. "Beyond that, even the small files in typical user profiles show an impressive compression ratio with EMC's Data De-duplication feature."

Rich Napolitano, senior vice president at EMC's Storage Division, said the Celerra line also includes multi-protocol interfaces, including as many as 32 10Gbits/s Ethernet NAS and iSCSI ports.

EMC also announced that it is offering enterprise-class SSDs for its Celerra line. Flash disk can result in up to an eight-fold performance improvement compared to traditional Fibre Channel drives. EMC's flash drives, from STEC, deliver sub-millisecond response times and are 98 percent more energy efficient on an input/output per seconds basis than hard drives, EMC said. The flash disk drives can be mixed with Fibre Channel, or SATA drives to create a multi-tiered storage array.

"By consolidating VMware, Windows, Linux and Unix environments onto a single Celerra NS system, IT managers gain a tremendous amount of flexibility and the ability to deploy and update the latest storage technologies across all application environments as needs dictate," said Steve Scully, an analyst at IDC.

Celerra system users can also now purchase SATA II disk drive technology, which typically use up to a third of the power per terabyte of capacity as traditional 1TB SATA disk drives. The Celerra systems also offer twice as many drives as they had before. For example, the high-end NS-960 integrated with an EMC Clariion CX4, scales up to 960 disks.

The new Celerra NS-120, NS-480, NS-960 and NS-G8 models will be available in early March 2009. The starting list price for the entry-level NS120 is $37,725, which includes 1.8TB of raw storage, RAID and CIFS support as well as snap-shot capability.