EMC has introduced a new CLARiiON, the AX4, which replaces the entry-level AX0-150 with up to five times more disk drives. It's cheaper than Dell's EqualLogic arrays, terabyte for terabyte.

Hardware

The AX4 is an iSCSI storage area network (SAN) array product. It can have 60 disk drives, meaning 60TB capacity when 1TB drives are delivered in March. There are only 750GB drives available for now. It can also have faster SAS drives, the first EMC box to do so, enabling a two-tier array with SAS tier 1 storage and SATA tier 2.

The AX4 supports iSCSI, and Fibre Channel connectivity as well.

The CLARiiON AX4 is built on the same architecture as that in the larger CLARiiON CX3 mid-range storage array. This offers "Five 9s" availability - 99.999 percent of uptime. It features a mirrored cache design, built-in standby power supply, continuous disk consistency checking, active-active controllers and hot swappable components which provide better levels of data availability and reliability.

Software

The software and controller enables the AX4 to connect to up to 64 hosts at the same time. These can be Windows, Linux, Unix, NetWare and VMware Infrastructure hosts. The AX-150 supported just 10. Clearly the AX4 is much better suited for life as a virtual server-attached array where one physical server could run 10 virtual servers.

Built-in features enable real-time volume expansion, through MetaLUNs, making the allocation of storage for new virtual machines simple and seamless. The CLARiiON AX4 includes EMC's Virtual LUN technology, which can be used in conjunction with VMware Storage VMotion for the non-disruptive migration of multiple virtual machine disk files.

In addition, the AX4 supports replication software: MirrorView, SAN Copy, RepliStor, and Replication Manager to provide high uptime levels in VMware environments.

AX4 SAN capacity can be configured with just a few mouse clicks by following simple, graphical interface instructions and installation wizards. System management is intuitive and simplified by using the latest version of EMC Navisphere Express, which has a graphical approach to creating and managing disk pools and virtual disks. It means storage capacity can be created, allocated and re-allocated in seconds, whilst an application remains online.