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According to reports and industry sources, EMC may soon position its Clariion storage area networks as more of a unified block and file storage system — territory now occupied by the company's Celerra unified data storage arrays.
The next-generation Clariion, dubbed the V-CX, may add CIFS and NFS for file-based storage in addition to iSCSI, FCoE and Fibre Channel block-based storage protocols. That would move the Clariion line closer to the Celerra line, which combines NAS, iSCSI and Fibre Channel.
EMC spokesperson Rick Lacroix declined to comment on the rumors. "We'll have several opportunities this year where we will be talking about our vision and strategy in the area of midrange storage," he told Enterprise Storage Forum.
Greg Schulz, founder and senior analyst at StorageIO Group, said the storage networking industry "has been on a convergence path between block and NAS file storage solutions for some time now, moving beyond first-generation gateway integrated systems where a NAS appliance sat in front of a block-based storage device.
"Vendors have been providing tightly integrated or purpose-developed solutions where the block and file capabilities exist natively in the solution as opposed to bolted on," said Schulz. "It only makes logical sense for EMC to move in that direction, more tightly integrating their already combined Celerra and Clariion solutions into an even more easy-to-use and manage multi-protocol unified storage solution."
One factor that could drive SAN-NAS convergence is the rise of 10Gb Ethernet, which for the first time gives lower-cost IP storage a performance edge over Fibre Channel (see Why NAS Might Overtake SAN Storage, Falling 10GbE Prices Spell Doom for Fibre Channel and Will 10GbE and FCoE Hurt iSCSI and NAS Storage?).
The timing of any announcement from EMC remains uncertain. Some in the industry say it could come as soon as April, perhaps coinciding with the Storage Networking World (SNW) show, while others say it could coincide with an already busy EMC World in May, where EMC has already promised to unveil a grand storage networking vision.
One thing appears certain for the next Clariion: tighter integration with EMC's VMware server virtualization subsidiary, a prominent theme for the data storage giant.
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