EMC hikes power of VNX line

EMC Corp. is putting more muscle into its top-selling storage line in Canada.

The company said Wednesday that new versions of the mid-range VNX series have been optimized for solid-state hard drives with faster processors to give four times the performance of the previous models at largely the same prices.

“We’ve re-designed the architecture to take advantage of flash technology,” said Kashif Ansari,  EMC Canada’s chief technology officer.

There are seven new models, including the all-flash VNX-F, for customers looking for a smaller footprint array with high I/O and response times and who don’t need high storage capacity. It would appeal to financial institutions, he said.

The earlier platform, first introduced in 2011, was designed around spinning hard drives, he said. While solid state drives could be added for certain workloads, the architecture wasn’t designed to take advantage of the speed of flash – for example, although the arrays had multi-core CPUs, each core could only do one task.

“So if your workload was very unusual you could have one CPU very busy, the others not doing very much,” Ansari said. Not only wasn’t that efficient, it didn’t scale.

The new models leverage a re-written operating system now called MCx takes advantage of the multi-core CPUs to perform at greater speeds. In the new models “all the cores are active in all the tasks in the array, so everybody gets equal share of all the horsepower available. We can have a much flatter line in terms of I/O performance, right to the limit of the box.”

As a result customers will be able to plan workloads better and “operate their environments without surprises.”

The new EMC [NYSE: EMC] models include the VNX5200, 5400, 5800, 7600 and the 8000 and are available through EMC system integrators and solution providers. The units vary by the number and power of CPUs and storage capacity. Prices start at US$30,000.

EMC says the new generation of VNXs supports up to 6,600 virtual machines, compared to 1,100 VMs for the previous models.

Ansari said the VNX line is for enterprises and mid-sized organizations that have highly-virtualized environments need  five-9s reliability (five minutes of downtime a year).

The new models are a big update for the VNX line, Henry Balthazar, an industry analyst with Forrester Research, said in an interview, because they allows the arrays to take advantage of multi-threading and SSDs. But he also said EMC had to do it to keep up with all-flash array startups like Violin Memory and Pure Storage.

EMC also said its VSPEX reference architecture – used by customers that want to build their own cloud platforms with approved software/server/storage stacks – now includes the new VNX models.

In addition, VSPEX approved software includes Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, Citrix XenDesktop for virtual desktops.

The company also said its previously-announced ViPR software-defined storage platform will be available for purchase at the end of this month.

An extension of a software-defined data centre, ViPR presents storage into an orchestratration layer that provides SDN data centre services. In essence, Ansari said, just as SDN separates virtual server workloads from management, ViPR separates does the same to automate storage management across what would normally be separate storage pools.

He didn’t have details on ViPR pricing.

When released, ViPR will include a storage management controller that will work with several storage systems including EMC’s through open APIs. It will also include the ability to manage data through a number of services. The first will be Object Data Services, which will give administrators the ability to view objects as files. The advantage, EMC says, is that it would provide faster file access.

Object Data Services will support Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and EMC’s Atmos.

ViPR will allow organizations to create a single storage pool, Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research, said in an interview. But it does have a proprietary protocol. Its success, therefore, will depend on the number of partners EMC can attract.


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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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