EMC V-Max: Locked (in) and loaded

April 14, 2009 – EMC’s announcement today of its Virtual Matrix Architecture and Symmetrix V-Max systems certainly didn’t lack hyperbole. EMC chairman, president and CEO Joe Tucci called it the most significant Symmetrix innovation since EMC debuted the platform 18 years ago.

Not surprisingly, Hitachi Data Systems vice president and CTO Hu Yoshida was quick to weigh in on EMC’s announcement in his “Don’t Confuse Symmetrix V-Max with Storage Virtualization” blog (even though EMC didn’t in fact equate V-Max with storage virtualization). Referring to the V-Max as “just another big monolithic storage system,” Yoshida makes the point that V-Max is as locked in as vendor lock-in gets. Not only can you not put other vendors’ disk arrays in the Virtual Matrix Architecture, you can’t even put EMC’s Clariion or DMX arrays in it. Which was a good springboard for Yoshida to sing the praises of HDS’ USP V system, which virtualizes heterogeneous storage platforms.

Not that anybody expected EMC to embrace heterogeneity in its new architecture.

Even the analyst community couldn’t resist hyperbole in covering this announcement. For example, Pund-IT Research’s Charles King and the Mesabi Group’s David Hill wrote that the Virtual Matrix Architecture and V-Max systems “are likely to incite a tectonic shift in the enterprise storage market” and that the improvements (relative to DMX-4) “range from the simply impressive to the seriously jaw-dropping.”

And, sending me agoogling, King and Hill noted that the Symmetrix V-Max systems are “based on highly integrated ‘layers,’ resulting in a delectably enterprise-class equivalent of a Sachertorte.”

In the past, every time EMC made a momentous move (say with the acquisitions of Documentum, RSA and VMware), I questioned their strategy and even predicted that some of their acquisition follies would end in failure. I was always wrong.

I quit nay-saying the Hopkinton honchos a long time ago. Sure, there are a few chinks in their armor, but they have more arrows in their quiver than a few of their competitors combined.

The V-Max systems and Virtual Matrix Architecture will no doubt prove successful, despite the vendor lock-in and the starting price of $250,000 – not exactly the antidote for what’s ailing the IT economy (although the systems do provide a lot more bang for the buck than DMX-4s; e.g., 3x the performance, 3x more capacity and 2x the connectivity).

The architecture may not be storage virtualization per se, but it will play well in huge server virtualization environments, particularly in managed service provider environments trying to capitalize on cloud-based computing/storage/virtualization.

For EMC exec Chuck Hollis’ blog on the announcement, see “Symmetrix V-Max: Storage Architecture Redefined.” It’s biased, but interesting.


posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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