If 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…..