By Drew Robb
EMC hosted an extravaganza today at multiple venues and with a global webcast audience. The company rolled out more than 40 products, including the VNX line of unified (SAN and NAS) systems.
Attendees watched a 100-minute event, complete with world record leaps by daredevil biker Bubba Blackwell, and 26 people packing into a Mini Cooper to set a Guinness World Record. Those stunts were meant to highlight EMC’s claim of storage performance records in a number of product categories vs. rivals such as IBM, HP and NetApp.
“These new products are part of the largest launch ever in the storage industry . . . spanning virtually the entire spectrum,” said Pat Gelsinger, EMC’s president of Information Infrastructure Products.
The announcements included the EMC VNX unified storage family -- including VNXe systems for SMBs -- which consolidates the Clariion (SAN/block) and Celerra (NAS/file) platforms; an upgrade for Symmetrix VMAX with improved Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) software; new Data Domain deduplication appliances; Federated Live Migration (FLM) to reduce Symmetrix-related data migration times by 75%; and the unveiling of the first lineup of EMC Isilon products.
“EMC already had about the deepest product portfolio in the industry, and it just got even deeper,” say Steve Duplessie, an analyst with the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) research and consulting firm.
Greg Schulz, an analyst with the StorageIO Group, believes that EMC’s new lineup will spark an even fiercer war with NetApp: “With continued growth of unstructured data for traditional, virtual and cloud environments, unified SAN and NAS along with multi-protocol interfaces has become more important for enabling flexibility and agility,” says Schulz. “While many vendors have or will have unified, multi-protocol offerings, the major battleground involves EMC vs. NetApp.”
VNX unified storage
In introducing the VNX line, EMC’s Gelsinger began at the low end with the VNXe, which is targeted at SMBs. He commented that when people think of EMC, they think quality, reliability – and expensive. The goal of the VNXe is to change that perception, according to Gelsinger.
Gelsinger claimed that the VNXe unified storage series, at an entry price of $9,499, is at least $1,000 less than comparable offerings from Dell and NetApp.
Wizards make it possible to set up iSCSI volumes, as well as NFS and CIFS shares, in a few minutes on a VNXe. To underline the simplicity claim, an on-stage demo provisioned Microsoft Exchange in less than a minute. Gelsinger then brought out a fourth grader who managed the system via an iPad, then changed a failed hard drive in 10 seconds.
“Who would have thought we’d be saying that EMC was the low cost leader in storage?,” Gelsinger said. He added that 28 applications are included in the VNXe SMB packages, which are broken down into three bundled configurations. The company’s Unisphere software is provided for management.
Gelsinger then moved on to the midrange. EMC has converged its Clariion SAN and Celerra NAS platforms into a single family known as VNX. The company claims 3X simpler management, 3X better efficiency, and 3X more performance than current EMC midrange products. VNX systems come with improved FAST – FAST VP (Virtual Pools) -- and FAST Cache in order to boost performance, optimize capacity. The systems also are available with solid-state disk (SSD) drives. The arrays are powered by Intel’s six-core Westmere processors, a 6Gbps SAS back-end, and a range of I/O options. Many of the VNX models will be available this quarter.
The high end of EMC’s disk systems lineup also received a facelift. Symmetrix VMAX clusters can now support petabytes of data and up to five million virtual machines (VMs). The VMAX systems include the latest FAST technology, a new operating system that doubles performance, and upgrades for server virtualization, security and federation.
“Our new software adds 55 new features to VMAX,” Gelsinger claimed. “The system is now 2X faster on OLTP and decision support workloads, and FAST VP [virtual pools] makes it much smarter.”
Gelsinger made a passing comment about eventually getting rid of Fibre Channel drives, which may well be a sign of things to come. For now, however, VMAX still includes Fibre Channel drives albeit a relatively small number of drives for highperformance I/O. The bulk of capacity is on SATA drives, with SSDs handling the most intensive I/O operations.
“EMC shipped more flash last year than the rest of the storage industry combined,” Gelsinger claimed.
Each VMAX unit includes up to 128 Intel processor cores. The systems also come with Data at Rest Encryption (DARE) from RSA Security to safeguard data, as well as Federated Live Migration (FLM) technology, which reduces the time it takes to move data to another array by 75%, according to the company.
Data Domain and Isilon
Data Domain also made it to the party as EMC continues to focus on data deduplication. And the endgame is the elimination of tape once and for all.
“The time for tape is over,” said Gelsinger.
With performance of up to 9.8TB per hour, DD Global Deduplication Archiver (GDA) moves aging data to a scalable archive tier. The DD GDA has a raw capacity of 768 TB, and provides retention times of perhaps seven or more years – enough to satisfy most retention requirements.
Finally, EMC rolled out three series of Isilon scale-out NAS systems for “big data” (e.g., video, graphics, simulation and other workloads that consume vast amounts of storage). The Isilon S Series is for high performance, the N Series for high capacity, and the X Series for a balance of capacity and performance.
“Isilon made a name based on simplicity,” said Gelsinger. “One file system can deal with 10PB, enabling you to scale out with ease.”