Migrating from EMC Centera CAS to NAS – Emerging Solutions

Migrating from EMC Centera CAS to NAS – Emerging Solutions

In previous Blog posts on this topic we talked about how EMC Centera has become of the most successful disk-based devices of all time. How that so many organizations that have come to depend upon Centera have undoubtedly discovered the challenges of migrating data out of Centera once their device reaches End-of-Life or the end of its “reasonable service period”.

Challenges with Migrating off Centera

Writing data to Centera has long been considered a “black box” approach, because Centera stores data as objects with associated Content Descriptor Files (CDF), rather than storing data in a native file format using standard naming conventions such as DOC, XLS, PDF, etc.

As a result of this black box approach, files and directory structures are not directly viewable to a client workstation, and methods such as Windows copy-and-paste procedures, DOS xcopy commands, and file management utilities cannot be used to migrate data from Centera.

The challenge is further highlighted when popular 3rd party applications such as Symantec’s Enterprise Vault are in use on Centera – migrating this data can be more than just challenging, it can be near impossible.

Centera and the Future

While emerging disk-based storage and archive solutions have continued to scale exponentially, the Centera platform hasn’t quite kept pace. This presents a challenge for organizations relying on Centera for archive who are also seeking to capitalize on large capacity, multi-role storage platforms to centralize their data. Enter EMC Isilon, a fully clustered scale-out storage platform with a broad multi-role capability, including archive.

Organizations currently depending on earlier generations of Centera (Gen 1 through 3) are faced with very real problem of what to do with their archive data now that the product service life has ended. Even those on early release Generation 4 Centera are likely wondering what the next step might be once capacity and support are at an end. The answer is to consider a simple, no-downtime migration to an Isilon solution.


EMC has partnered with Seven10, a software company founded in 2001 with headquarters in Lawrence, Massachusetts, to provide a Software-only, EMC-aligned migration that also natively supports Next Generation EMC platforms such as Isilon. The Seven10 StorFirst software solution enables organizations with a quick and clean migration from NetApp, HP, Dell, IBM technologies as well as the smoothest migration path from CUA and DX driven EMC Centera.

While migrations from Centera when the CUA/DX gateway are in play are relatively straightforward, products that use the Centera CAS API present challenges when attempting to migrate. This is due to the fact that any migration tool will need to be able to communicate with the CAS API in order to read the data and write it to an alternate location. Products such as Symantec Enterprise Vault that natively support the CAS API will require a new migration mechanism that understands the CAS API and the data that’s behind it as relating to the data being migrated. Seven10 has made it clear that while they don’t have a migration product that can do this today, they are looking forward to Q4 when they will release a product that does what is needed to migrate CAS to NAS and other platform types. In talking with their team, we’ve come to understand that Seven10 is fully aware of the Centera CAS migration challenge are working to create a solution. As we get closer to the release of this yet-to-be-named product, I’ll keep you updated on any features and capabilities that come to light.

Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions or concerns about the information presented in this document.


Ben Thurston


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