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EMC to release hot flood of unifying products

Company blows own horn with 'record breaking' pledge

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EMC will introduce VNX5000 and VNX7500 products unifying its CLARiiON and Celerra mid-range storage arrays, according to documents seen by El Reg.

The CLARiiON range is in its fourth CX4 generation and EMC's mainstream block-access storage array. It is accompanied by the Celerra NX4 and NX3e block and file-access array which has date movers, providing the NAS (network-attached storage) access to its (CLARiiON) storage enclosures. It is generally thought that EMC's arch storage competitor, NetApp, has a superior unified block and file-access storage architecture in this product/market space with its FAS6000 and 3000 arrays, particularly when providing storage for virtual servers and desktops.

EMC has said it will introduce a new mid-range product early this year. As part of the background to this EMC and NetApp have been playing benchmark tit-for-tat games using SPECsfs2008 ratings to promote their products. EMC is publicising what looks like a benchmark performance-fest on its website, telling viewers to register for an 18 January event where "Records will be broken" and 1,000,000 IOPS is mentioned in a video.

It is possible that these performance records will be broken by VNX systems, with EMC plugging its speed advantages over NetApp. EMC's publicity material highlights a 3X improvement in both MB/sec and IOPS, with five 'nines' availability (99.999 per cent up time).

The information El Reg has seen indicates there will be four VNX5000 products: a 5100, a 5300, a 5500 and a 5700 – plus a high-end VNX7500 product. They will come in block-only, file-only, and unified (file and block-access) storage form and support an SSD (solid state drive) tier of storage, FAST Cache.

The VNX5100 can have up to 100GB of FAST Cache, the 5300 500GB, the 5500 1TB, the 5700 1.5TB, and the 7500 2.1TB. Apparently FAST cache can be configured with either 100 or 200 GB of usable storage, with minor maximum capacity differences depending on which is chosen.

Drive capacities are listed as 100, 200, 300, 600 and 2000 SAS. Our understanding is that these are 100 and 200GB SSDS, fast 300 and 600GB disk drives and bulk data 2TB SAS disk drives. In the VNX Block Series the storage can be configured in RAID 0, 1, 3, 5 and 6 levels. EMC's FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) technology will move and place data automatically in the SSD, fast hard disk and bulk hard disk tiers.

The VNX5700 has four SAS back-end buses. In file-only and unified storage forms it can have two to four data movers and three configurable host I/O slots. In block-only form it can have three or four host I/O slots. These slots can be used for a 4-port 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel module pair, a 2-port 10GbitE iSCSI module pair, a 4-port 1GbitE iSCSI and 2-port FCoE I/O module pairs. The file-only model can only have 8 Gbit/s Fibre Channel host connectivity in the table we have seen.

The VNX7500 can have four or eight SAS back-end buses. In file-only and unified storage versions it can have from two to eight data movers, double the number supported in the VNX5700. The file-only model has one configurable host I/O slot, the unified storage version one, two or three, and the block-only version two, three or four. The slots can be filled with the same Fibre Channel, Ethernet iSCSI and FCoE modules as for the VNX5700, with the same restriction of 8Gbit/s Fibre Channel access for the file-only VNX7500.

We have seen no tabulated I/O connectivity options for the 5100, 5300 or 5500 VNX products.

If the net of this information is correct – that EMC is going to introduce five VNX products offering block-only, file-only and unified storage with record-breaking data access and throughput performance – then that will create problems for HP with its yet-to-be-refreshed EVA product, and give IBM's STORWIZE V7000 and NetApp's updated FAS6000 and FAS3000 products stronger competition. ®

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