EMC unveils archive system for mid-tier organizations

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EMC Corporation this week announced a new offering for mid-sized enterprises to expand its Centera family of content addressed storage (CAS) systems. This new lower-capacity and lower-cost Centera has a four-node configuration that is designed to provide the same functionality available in Centera configurations currently used by much larger enterprises. Nodes are the building blocks of Centera and act as archival storage and the connection to enterprise networks.

Centera was introduced three years ago and currently are used by 1,200 customers, according to EMC. At the time of the debut, Centera was geared towards large institutions that needed to address mounting data storage issues.
Roy Sanford, VP CAS, EMC told Health Imaging News that in designing these products EMC found that 70 percent of the information being generated by their customers stopped changing after a certain time. This included data such as medical images or patient records which, once complete, need to be kept for 7 years or for the life of the patient, depending on the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements. 
In content addressed storage, data are stored based on what they are rather than where they are. Users tag items with a type of digital fingerprint which Centera can then pull up out of the archive for viewing in sub-second time, Sanford said.
"This allows you to add some valuable benefits to long-term archiving like very, very low total-cost-of-ownership," Sanford said. "It also allows you to build self-management and self-healing capabilities onto the back end of the system. Centera and content addressed storage will scale to the point where you can manage up to 10 times the amount of capacity with one person that you could with a direct attached environment."
The Centera system is less costly to maintain than some other storage systems, Sanford said, because it has been designed using off-the-shelf technology which can be maintained by traditional IT staff. Additionally, Centera has a 'self-healing' capability that allows it to sense when a drive is failing and to shift data over to another location so that nothing is lost. Though repairs will be needed, the maintenance can be done when the system manager chooses.
The purpose of the new four-node configuration is to give smaller enterprises the capabilities, without any lost functionality, for storage that larger institutions have previously had access to. To put this in perspective, units of capacity are measured by nodes which contain four disk drives with 320 gigabytes (GB). The smallest previously available system was an eight-node configuration. This four-node system has 2.2 terabytes (TB) of usable storage, whereas some very large hospitals might require 100 TB. The racks that hold the nodes are refrigerator sized and can hold 32 nodes.

The four-node configuration is now possible through changes in Centera's software such as its shipping operating environment, which now allows content to be stored on all storage or access nodes. Additionally, the four-node configuration can now be rack-mounted an EMC cabinet or other industry-standard racks which are suited for midsize organizations for cost savings and space considerations, EMC said. 

The new system is priced 35 percent lower than the previous Centera entry point, EMC said.