EXCLUSIVE: NetApp document Tip EMC's Celerra, Clariion to go EOL in 2010, successor to emerge in Q3

In a document sent to staff and resellers, NetApp predicts the configuration of EMC's Clariion and Celerra successor, but says the new products will only be announced at EMC World as a marketing gesture, but will not ship until the third quarter of the year.

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NetApp is advising its resellers to prepare to sell against a phantom competitor, as it says EMC will pre-announce the successor to its midrange Clariion and Celerra arrays at EMC World in the second week of May but won’t have products to ship until the third quarter.

In a “CATAlert” document sighted by SearchStorage ANZ, NetApp advises its sales team and resellers that “You should expect EMC to promote and position the upcoming EMC V-CX vision in customer accounts to delay or disrupt your deals in progress. Even though EMC will be promoting their V-CX vision, they will only have the current CLARiiON CX4 and Celerra NS series to sell and deliver.”

The document predicts that EMC will announce two products at EMC World.

One, V-Plex, is tipped to be a virtualised storage product allowing replication over long distances. This prediction seems sound, given EMC’s Pat Gelsinger foreshadowed such a product in late March.

NetApp is also bracing for the introduction of a device it calls the VC-X and expects to be a unified storage solution with “an EMC V-Max back-end and a VMware integrated operating system for CLARiiON and Celerra.”

EMC CEO Joe Tucci has denied the name of the product is “VC-X” and has been non-commital on the future of the Clariion and Celerra range.

NetApp, however, says its team has reason to believe that “CLARiiON and Celerra will be declared EOL around the end/beginning of CY2010/2011” and that the arrays’ replacement will be “based on two vEngines from V-Max and VMware code plus parts of Rainfinity, running DART (Celerra OS) and FLARE (CLARiiON OS). Sources are also saying that V-CX arrays can be configured for N+1 failover capabilities. The arrays will be clusterable and federated, through V-Plex. Further indications mention only partial functionality of Celerra and CLARiiON for the initial version of V-CX and full functionality in version 2 by end of this year. These are significant reasons why CLARiiON and Celerra models will be sold alongside the V-CX for the moment, but both will be EOL as soon as version 2 is available.”

The document is less worried about V-Plex, stating that in the “ ... last couple of weeks we have seen EMC position and sell V-Plex in combination with EMC V-Max, mainly against NetApp’s MetroCluster solution. V-Plex replaces EMC’s unsuccessful InVista virtualization solution. Built on global federation technology from YottaYotta, a small Canadian company that was acquired by EMC in 2008, V-Plex will most likely come with features like global cache coherency, transparent failover and deduplication.”

The document goes on to say that “EMC is trying to solve a problem that NetApp never had. The long and successful history of NetApp Unified Storage doesn’t look like that it will end soon. In contrast EMC attempted to sell a Unified Storage solution made from a combination of separate block storage (CLARiiON) and a file gateway (Celerra). With the new V-CX it will be questionable how far EMC integrated SAN and NAS to provide true Unified Storage. A combined file system, CBFS (Common Block File System), for V-CX and front-end connections for block and file protocol might provide one part of the solution, but there are no indications of management, storage efficiency or data protection, all integral parts of Unified Storage.”

“In addition the new V-CX doesn’t solve the problem of an overall Unified Storage architecture from EMC. Customers have to choose between CLARiiON, Celerra, Symmetrix V-Max, V-CX, Atmos, and Centera and appliances like Rainfinity and V-Plex to combine those different architectures. Not forgetting dozens of software solutions to replicate between the architectures; RecoverPoint, SAN Copy, and Open Replicator. And what about customers who want to integrate 3rd party arrays from other vendors? The unbeatable combination of V-Series with NetApp intelligence in front of 3rdpart arrays can’t be matched by EMC’s Celerra gateway solution.”

The document then recommends that NetApp salespeople and partners should counter EMC’s “future selling” by asking the following questions:

  • When will the CLARiiON or Celerra be discontinued? If not, what written guarantee will EMC provide?
  • How do I migrate from a CLARiiON and/or Celerra to the V-CX?
  • Will EMC Professional Services be required for migration? How much will the migration cost?
  • What disruption will I encounter?
  • Will the V-CX have full functionality of CX4 and Celerra? If not, how long do I have to wait for a true Unified Storage solution?
  • Are there any differences in the architecture compared to Symmetrix V-Max, Centera, or Atmos?
  • Will the V-CX require two separate management systems?
  • Who are the references that are using the V-CX in production environments?
  • What is the licensing and pricing structure?
  • Will I be charged extra for software functionality like management software, snapshot, replication, thin provisioning, etc.?
  • Will the functionality be priced by capacity or platform?

UPDATE, MONDAY MAY 3rd

EMC's Chuck Hollis has commented on this story, writing on Twitter that  Netapp's assessment is "too funny" as it is "mostly wrong!"

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