EMC unveils slew of product upgrades, new VMAX array

In all, the company announced 42 products or upgrades

At its annual user conference today, EMC announced upgrades across most of its major product lines, including a new high-end Symmetrix VMAX array with up to 4PB capacity and twice the performance of its predecessor.

In all, the company said that at EMC World in Las Vegas this week it is announcing 42 new product capabilities or upgrades.

"It's a horizontal improvement across their entire portfolio. That's hard to do when you have that many products," said Steve Duplessie, founder and lead analyst of market research firm ESG.

EMC said the product upgrades support its ongoing strategy of enabling private and public cloud computing deployments.

Among the new products EMC introduced a new version of its new entry-level VNXe hybrid storage array. The new VNXe 3150 storage system offers up to 50% more performance and capacity compared with its predecessor. VNX and VNXe combine the EMC Clariion block storage and Celerra file storage system in one array.

Perhaps most significantly, the company today announced a new model of its high-end Symmetrix VMAX storage array that doubles both the maximum capacity and performance over its predecessor. The company also also gave the names of its existing VMAX lineup addendums, to help classify them for use cases ranging from lower-end to midrange enterprises.

"VMAX for the first time ever becomes a family. We typically had the approach that we'd build a VMAX and three years later build a new VMAX, and the old VMAX would become ... obsolete," said Jeremy Burton, EMC's chief marketing officer.

Now, the current high-end VMAX hardware becomes the VMAX 20K and the VMAXe, a midrange to lower-end enterprise array, becomes the VMAX 10K, Burton said. The VMAX 20K scales to 2PB of usable capacity and the 10K scales to 1.5PB.

The VMAX 40K

The new VMAX 40K uses up to 32 2.8GHz Intel Xeon six-core processors, and has as much as 2TB of mirrored (1TB usable) and ECC-protected DDR3 DRAM, and twice as much internal fabric bandwidth as the original EMC VMAX.

The new high density option for the VMAX 40K utilizes 2.5-in SAS drives to support up to 3.2PB in a footprint that is one-third smaller and uses one-third less power than the equivalent configuration using 3.5-in. drives.

The array also offers new 2.5-in. enterprise-class MLC (multi-level cell) solid-state drives. The new SSDs offer the performance, reliability and life expectancy of EMC's previous 3.5-in. SLC (single-level cell) SSDs and at a lower price point.

EMC's VMAX operating system, Enginuity, also gives all three arrays -- the 10K, 20K and 40K a similar look and feel but with differing capabilities, Burton said.

"Probably the best analogy is you don't necessarily build a spreadsheet in Microsoft Word, but the way is works and operates is very similar, which gives people familiarity," Burton said. "What we find is people who manage the midrange and high end are different people, therefore we have a distinct tool, but certainly the look and feel are identical."

The new VMAX 40K, which scales up to eight controllers, offers up to 4 petabytes of capacity in a single rack and has twice the throughput of the previous high-end VMAX, Burton said.

Along with the VMAX refresh, EMC last week unveiled a new product bundle for cloud service providers called VMAX SP [service provider].

VMAX SP is a bundled package that includes a VMAX array along with software and four service-level agreements (SLAs), ranging from bronze to gold. The package deal was created to ease the process of deploying a public cloud infrastructure.

"The real mission we're on is to continue to realize this vision of people to not just deploy a private cloud infrastructure, but a hybrid cloud infrastructure," Burton said.

Besides the announcement of more capacity and throughput, the VMAX combined with an upgrade to EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) software, allows the storage box to interface with competitor's high-end disk arrays. That allows users to manage existing IBM DS-line or Hitachi VSP-line storage arrays through EMC's Symmetrix management interface.

"So we can essentially treat IBM and Hitachi as a tier of an EMC storage array," Burton said. "That certainly becomes important when you're in a market where taking share matters."

"It really is a three-horse race at the high end. We feel with FAST, we have the best storage tiering implementation, bar none," he added.

Hitachi Data Systems also offers a similar feature with its Virtual Storage Platform, which can act as a front-end to competitor's arrays.

VMAX, combined with EMC's VPLEX cloud tiering appliance, will also dissolve the distance between private and public clouds, Burton said.

"We think that's going to provide a pretty strong foundation for cloud-based data," he said.

EMC's VPLEX metro and VPLEX geo allow for replication of data between applications over distances of up to 100 kilometers to greater than 2,000 kilometers, respectively.

VPLEX is now also integrated with the latest version of RecoverPoint software, EMC's continuous data protection application that not only backs up data, but allows instantaneous recovery of it in a disaster or system failure.

EMC said upgrades to the various element of VPLEX now allows it to offer 40% more performance and twice the scalability of previous iterations of the hardware/software package.

"The whole mission in the life of VPLEX is to turn the entire world into active-active data centers. So you have a primary site and a secondary site, both sites should be able to run workloads regardless of whether one site is in recovery mode or the other is in transaction processing mode," Burton said.

VPLEX is now also now certified with Oracle RAC. The user interface enables multi-site active/active RAC deployments over up to 100 kilometers apart while maintaining full synchronization and continuous operations in the event of a site failure.

VNX upgrades

Like its VMAX, EMC upgraded its midrange VNX unified storage arrays with new processors and capacity.

EMC's new entry-level VNXe3150 array comes with an Intel quad core processor, and is optimized for cloud computing and virtualized applications. The array, like its predecessors, is best suited for IT generalists with its simple UI for managing virtual environments.

In the midrange storage product arena, EMC announced its VNX arrays now have a 38% lower starting purchase cost for SSD tiers -- a result of lower flash prices. Users can also mix RAID types within a storage pool, EMC said. For example, SSDs can be configured as RAID 5 and SAS drives as RAID 6 for maximum efficiency and maximum protection.

EMC's VNX array line also received some new snapshot capabilities. The VNX now support 256 writable snapshots per Logical Unit Number (LUN) for up to 32,000 per system (depending on VNX system size.) The array can also take snapshots of snapshots, for backup development and test purposes.

The company also announced EMC VNX Connector for VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite. VNX Connector will provide tools such as dashboards with health alerts and analytics that give admins comprehensive cross-domain of their virtual server storage environment.

EMC said it is working with its VMware subsidiary to tightly integrate VNX storage UI with the analytics of vCenter Operations Management Suite. The company will extend its VNX storage software portfolio with the addition of the EMC Storage Analytics Suite that is based on VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite.

EMC's VNX unified storage systems will also be integrated with VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite via the new EMC VNX Connector, enabling a single, end-to-end view of IT infrastructures with EMC VNX storage.

The EMC VNX Storage Analytics Suite and EMC VNX Connector for VMware vCenter Operations Management Suite are expected to be generally available in the second half of 2012.

EMC introduced its AppSync application, offering a self-service, SLA-driven approach for protecting virtualized Microsoft applications supported by VNX arrays.

After defining their own service plans, users can set policies for backup of production data as well as recovery.

AppSync also provides an application protection monitoring service that generates alerts when the SLAs are not met. When VNX's snapshots are used with AppSync, they can be used to quickly provision copies of production data for application development and testing.

EMC Isilon OneFS upgrade

EMC also announced the next version of its Isilon OneFS scale-out NAS operating system, code named Mavericks. The clustered NAS system now has new levels of data protection, security, system performance, as well as interoperability, the company said.

OneFS Mavericks is being designed to enable enterprises to extend the scalability EMC Isilon storage systems to a broader range of enterprise applications and infrastructure environments -- large home directories, for example.

The new OneFS NAS system has 90% greater throughput than is predecessor, or a maximum of 740GB/sec compared with 390GB/sec previously, Burton said.

"So we think that it's the highest single-file system throughput in the industry, bar none," he said. "We think it's roughly 20 times faster than traditional NAS."

The OneFS Mavericks OS offers roles-based administration of the file systems, allows the creation of more secure "isolated" storage volumes to prevent unauthorized access to data. The new access control help users comply with rules such as the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission's 17a-4 requirements, which covers electronic communications and data storage.

Isilon's new OS is also expected to reduce a users recovery point objective and recovery time objective for mission critical applications, offering "near real-time" restoration of snapshot backups to recover critical files in the event of error or system failure.

The Isilon hardware platform also got an improvement to its caching capability, offering a 50% reduction in average latency for I/O intensive apps. The file system also received a 25% boost in performance, and it can now deliver over 100GB/sec. of system throughput. It is capable of delivering up to 1.6 million SpecSFS2008 CIFS operations per second.

In addition, Isilon will provide a dramatically improved caching capability to reduce average latency by 50% for I/O intensive applications.

OneFS Mavericks also comes with additional integration with VMware. It now leverages VMware's vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI) and VMware vStorage APIs for Storage Awareness (VASA) to accelerate and simplify Scale-Out NAS for virtualized server environments. "Mavericks" will also incorporate a new Platform API to provide third-party independent software vendors and enterprise IT with a more robust automation and control interface to OneFS.

EMC's ATMOS cloud storage software

Completing EMC's cloud storage direction is its Atmos pre-configured private cloud offering, which made up of products from six hardware and software vendors.

Atmos now scales to 100PB of capacity as single cloud system across distributed sites. A hardware refresh has given Atmos a 50% performance boost (for both reads and writes) for large objects and a 90% reduction in the time to upgrade the system -- with no service disruption, EMC said.

Atmos now has new segmentation and security features to provide the ability to separate management and data traffic for users and administrators.

A new Event Manager tool, also improves system visibility and provides enhanced alerting, providing near real-time visibility into overall system activity and performance, EMC said.

"We've seen a lot of interest in Atmos, particularly from service providers wanting to offer storage as a service as a competitor to an Amazon S3," Burton said. "The key use for Atmos ... is for [companies] who've got lots of data that needs to be globally distributed."

Data Domain and Avamar backup upgrades

EMC's Data Domain backup and deduplication appliance and its Avamar backup software also received some upgrades.

EMC introduced a new Data Domain appliance, the DD990, which sports an Intel Sandy Bridge processor. The high-end DD 990 appliance will now have twice the performance and capacity over its predecessor, the DD890, Burton said.

The DD890 has up to 14.2PB capacity when considering the amount of data it can deduplicate. That box had a maximum throughput of 8.1TB per hour. That means the DD990 has about 28PB of capacity through the use of deduplication and a maximum of 16TB per hour of throughput.

"We think we're roughly six times faster than our closest competitor on performance," Burton said. "The interesting thing about Data Domain, the reason it's been able to keep ahead of the competition is that it's very CPU intensive. So typically when we see a new processor come along, we'll immediately take advantage of that additional power."

EMC's announced a new iteration of its backup software, Avamar, which is now more tightly integrated with VMware, giving it a significant boost performance. Avamar 6.1 expands its support for Microsoft Hypver-V for backup of virtual server environments.

Avamar now also supports SAP, Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and has enhanced support for Oracle database backup.

Burton said the new software is now three times faster than EMC's closest competitor: Symantec. "Even more staggering is if you look at the recovery of a VM, our testing shows we're 30 times faster. A typical VM, they can recover in a minute; we can recovery it in about two seconds," he said.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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