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EMC Centera Virtual Archive enables larger Centera clusters

Dave Raffo

EMC Corp. today launched Centera Virtual Archive, a management layer for its Centera data archiving system that lets customers build a "cluster of clusters" to federate 512 nodes into one domain.

EMC Centera

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Virtual Archive lets organizations aggregate and manage four 128-node Centera clusters as one. That brings the total capacity of a virtual archive to more than 2 PB with 1 TB of SATA drives.

By building a "cluster of clusters," said Peter Thayer, EMC's director of product marketing for archiving, organizations can expand their data archive across geographically dispersed data centers.

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"A customer who has a couple of Centera archive systems spread across campus today could federate them into a single management domain," he said. "Not having to manage independent file systems makes a lot of sense. We're starting to eliminate some of the physical boundaries of the data center."

Thayer said Centera Virtual Archive integrates with Centera's CentraStar operating software and looks the same as the previous management interface.

"Think of it as putting a virtual layer on top of the existing architecture," he explained. Thayer said the virtual architecture will allow even larger clusters, but EMC has only qualified up to four nodes. He said the number of supported nodes will expand after further testing. "Architecturally, there's no limit," he said.

Thayer said software vendors that write to the Centera API will not have to do any further work to integrate with the Centera Virtual Archive.

Centera Virtual Archive will be available Dec. 10. List pricing starts at $8,000.

EMC claims more than 5,500 customers for Centera, the first content-addressed storage (CAS) system developed specifically for data archiving. But the virtual archive is targeted at the largest of those customers, and requires the network bandwidth to link nodes across distance.

"The idea of being able to aggregate separate Centera clusters into what looks like a unified archive would be valuable for large enterprises that currently have Centeras in different locations," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research. "The idea of a virtualized pool of archived data would be beneficial to them."

King said the virtual archive has interesting compliance possibilities for international companies, especially when EMC scales it out more.

"A single unified archive with all of a company's archived data in that country is an interesting notion, especially when you think of how archived data needs to be managed differently in each country," he said. "Having technology like this to create a single virtual archive, while at the same time managing all data in the location it needs to stay in and managing it under local law, would be useful."


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