EMC released FLARE 29 (04.29.000.5.001) for Clariion CX4 systems a few days ago. The release of the CX4 hardware platform was a very significant upgrade for the Clariion series – moving to a 64bit operating system, implementing hot-add and hot-swap I/O modules, as well as multi-core CPUs for higher performance and scalability. FLARE 28 was released to support the CX4 platform and introduced Virtual Provisioning (EMC’s name for thin provisioning) to the Clariion feature list.
According to the release notes FLARE 29 adds a couple of new features and builds on existing ones. All of them will become available with the standard non-disruptive upgrade Clariion owners are accustomed to.
New Features in FLARE 29:
- 2-port 10Gbps iSCSI IO modules are now available
- The ability to hot swap IO modules for faster modules (ie: upgrade from 4gb FC to 8gb FC)
- Idle SATA drives can now spin down to save power
- iSCSI ports now support VLAN tagging
- LUNs and MetaLUNs can now be shrunk if using new versions of Windows (ie: Windows 2008)
- The maximum number of LUNs has been increased for all CX4 models (to 8192 for the CX4-960)
- MirrorView now supports replicating to and/or from Thin provisioned LUNs
- SANCopy now supports copying to and/or from Thin provisioned LUNs
- The maximum number of MirrorView/Async sessions has increased to 256 and up to 64 consistency groups with up to 64 mirrors per group. Up to 512 MirrorView/Sync sessions are supported on CX4-960 hardware.
The really big news here is with MirrorView. When Virtual Provisioning was released in FLARE 28 on CX4 you could not use MirrorView with any thin LUNs, whether they were the source or destination. This limited the use of thin LUNs to those applications and/or customers that don’t need or use array-based replication. EMC’s RecoverPoint product did support thin LUNs but that is a separate, fairly expensive, solution. The ability to replicate non-thin (fat) LUNs to thin LUNs could be really useful for maximizing the disk utilization at a DR location where performance isn’t a primary concern.
The added ability to upgrade I/O modules to faster versions while online is also very handy. It means you can tackle problems like increasing iSCSI bandwidth or upgrading core infrastructure (ie: network and SAN switches) with little or no downtime on the storage system. VLAN tagging with iSCSI can be useful for sharing a storage system between disparate server environments that need to be separated for security or performance reasons.
As a Clariion and MirrorView user myself, I look forward to taking advantage of the added thin provisioning support with our upcoming CX4-960.