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EMC Releases VNX and “Breaks Records”

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Ifemc-logo you received a broken record through the post (I didn’t) or have been following the twitterverse then you’ll know EMC had a big new release planned for today (18th January in US, 19th in UK/EMEA).  In a nutshell the announcements comprised the following:

  • Unified NAS & modular SAN platform -VNX
  • A “baby” VNX, the VNXe
  • Upgrades on performance & features to VMAX (some of which have been available for some time)
  • Performance upgrades to Data Domain products
  • The addition of Isilon to the EMC family

Full details of all the announcements are at http://www.emc.com/microsites/record-breaking-event/index.htm


The new VNXe product gained a lot of attention and EMC did remarkably well at laying on the cheesy superlatives, with a ten-year old child actor replacing a failed drive onstage, managing the array through his iPad.  Undoutably VNXe is aimed at the low end market that Dell (with Equallogic), HP (Lefthand), Netapp (FAS2xxx) already occupy.  This has been an area EMC have had no real product offerings but is becoming increasingly competitive, with IBM releasing their new StorWize array into this sector last year.  EMC had to do something and VNXe isn’t a revolutionary release, merely a catchup.  For a start, their definitions of “unified” protocols covers only CIFS/NFS and iSCSI; no fibre channel support at this time.


The main VNX family merges the previous CLARiiON, Centerra and Celerra products into a single platform.  These arrays can be said to be “unified”, offering NFS/CIFS, MPFS, pNFS, FC, ISCSI and FCoE protocols in all except the low end VNX5100.  These arrays also start to use SAS drives and a full SAS backend, something other vendors (like Hitachi) have been doing for some time.  There’s no doubt that the new VNX arrays are pitched firmly against competition from the likes of Netapp, who have taken full advantage of the serendipitous nature of their NAS architecture in virtualised environments. However that said, a single mid-range product line makes complete sense from EMC’s manufacturing and support perspective as well as for customer understanding of their product offerings as new products are continually being added to the range (think Greenplum, Isilon and Data Domain as recent acquisitions).  Clearly it remains to be seen whether the performance claims of the new platform are met in the real world.

Speaking of claims, EMC made many in the course of their presentation; VMAX Fast Savings in power could power 24,400 homes; EMC shipped 10x more flash than their nearest competitor; 2x performance throughput improvements on VMAX with only a code upgrade.  I could go on.  Unfortunately these figures are meaningless and misleading without independent verification.  EMC still refuses to submit their products for generally accepted (SPC) benchmark verification and the figures on the presentation today mainly credited EMC Internal Testing or were too obscured to be readable.

Overall I think today’s product announcements consolidate EMC’s product strategy, provide incremental improvements but in general don’t offer anything that isn’t already available in the marketplace.  The performance and efficiency claims should be challenged by customers at every opportunity as only customer pressure will make EMC change their policy.

One final note; the “breaks records” strapline was accompanied by two stunts – onstage EMC crammed 26 people into a Mini and “live” from Miami, an Evel Knievel wannabe jumped 40 empty VMAX cabinets in a new record for jumping virtual storage on a motorcycle.  I’m curious to know, who previously held that array jumping record and how long did it stand for…..

About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
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  • http://www.datamobilitygroup.com/saltworks josephmartins

    First, while I find it difficult to take the name Bubba seriously I should point out that Bubba is no wannabe. The man did break three Evel Knievel records (most cars, most buses, and most stacked cars). His reference to “grabbing a handful” before his jump was pretty damn funny.

    That aside, the real news at the event wasn’t EMC’s product announcements. It was the maturation of EMC’s vision and its understanding of the problems faced by business users. As someone with extensive information management expertise under his belt I can write with confidence that few storage companies understand information management as well as EMC has come to understand it over the past several years since its DCTM acqusition. How well EMC will address the challenges it faces and execute on its vision remains to be seen.

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  • Lauren Buchsbaum

    Hi, Chris. I’m on EMC’s social media engagement team and was in charge of finding blogger addresses to send out our broken records to. Looks like I did a bad job, though, because – alas! – you were SUPPOSED to get one in the post from us. If you’d like one, post-event, I’ve got about twelve boxes of broken records currently taking up space in my office. Let me know… and hope you enjoyed the show :)

    • http://www.brookend.com Chris Evans


      Don’t worry, I’m not that desperate to get one! :-)


  • James Wilson

    Great summary. I found your article accurate, clear and concise. I appreciate that.

  • korman

    Great summary… My boss was so eager to get EMC in for the dog and pony show on the VNX after the anouncemnt.
    EMC has one of the best smoke and mirrors acts on the planet…. they are now selling the same low cost commodity hardware as everyone else for a huge premium.

    The jedi mind trick of storage.

  • Pete

    Honestly this is smoke and mirrors at so many levels.. I’m looking at storage units right now and literally the VNX is the same old Celerra/Clariion Dart/Flare stuff that’s been around for years..why is this so different? EMC should be commended for this ‘mature vision’? Maturity doesn’t require jumping empty storage cabinets – drop the sharades and focus on finding some innovation outside of buying third party companies to resell as yet another modular ‘add on’ to the frankenstein solutions that keep coming out… Line up competitors…and just compare the units themselves in a ‘wired up’ state and tell me who’s got some innovative design/thinking…

  • http://blog.sysdroid.com Giovanni

    EMC VNX feels like a Frankenstein made of Celerra and Clarion parts. The fact that the single box has TWO operating systems should be enough to dismiss any claims of it being a ‘unified’ storage.. perhaps EMC is too hardware focused and think that a single hardware package is enough for it to be unified.

    We had a executive brief with them and the fact that I still have to size my SAN and NAS areas separately (dedicating RAID groups to that) is a big disappointment.

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