EMC is to announce a new design for its Clariion midrange storage arrays. The new products are aimed at mid-sized businesses and should, the company claimed, offer more performance and flexibility.

The new Clariion UltraScale design, which adds end-to-end support for 4G bit/s Fibre Channel technology, allows users to consolidate multiple storage tiers in one array and mix 2Gbit/s and 4Gbit/s disk drives with varying levels of speed and capacity. The UltraScale architecture also includes EMCÂ’s Virtual LUN (logical unit number) technology, which enables data movement among various types of disk drives within the array.

EMC is offering three new midrange arrays based on the architecture: the Clariion CX3-20, which can scale to 59TB and is geared for smaller companies, or enterprises looking to support remote replication and workgroup productivity; the CX3-40, which can scale to 119TB and is geared for messaging and transactional workloads; and the CX3-80, which can scale to 239TBs of capacity, support up to 480 drives and is designed for large storage consolidation efforts. The new systems double the performance and capacity of their predecessors, the Clariion CX300, CX500, and CX700, which EMC launched in 2004.

"With these three models, EMC came up with three very distinct products that appeal to different classes of business users, it's not just simply the high-end, big, old box approach," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT.

The CX3 systems are backwards compatible with EMC management and replication software and configurable for direct-attach, SAN and iSCSI deployments, said an EMC spokesman.

NewRiver, a provider of compliance data technology for the financial industry, is one EMC user which is planning to deploy the CX3-20.

In addition to the performance boost, NewRiver was attracted to the ability to intermix different disk drives.

"We have three tiers of disk in our system: tier 1, which is our database disk and is our highest volume; tier 2 disk for our NAS portion; and tier 3, which is our cheaper disk for backups. The problem is that we have to buy a separate enclosure for the cheaper ATA disk, so when it comes time to upgrade we'd have to buy a new enclosure. But with the UltraScale, we have the ability to put the fibre disk in there, so we can intermix all the tiers of disk in the same enclosure. So when we upgrade we don't have to buy a new enclosure," said Bryan Whitehead, IT director for NewRiver.

The company is already using one of EMC's Clariion CX models to host its enterprise applications.

"The CX gives me the ability to have all the components of a larger environment at a cost-effective price," Whitehead said. "We're opting for the CX320 because we're a smaller company and although we do high volume, we don't have large amounts of data sets."

Pricing for the CX3-20, CX3-40 and CX3-80 starts at US$27,000, $52,000 and $101,000, respectively, for 365GB hardware configurations. The new systems are available now.