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EMC follows NetApp's lead with VNX line

We all need bigger numbers, right?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

EMC will have three VNX product lines, copying NetApp's FAS trio, in its attempt to provide better virtual server integration.

The VNX range starts with the VNXe3000 at the bottom, moves on to the VNX5000 mid-range products, and tops out with the VNX7000. For comparison, NetApp has the FAS2000, FAS3000 and FAS6000. EMC has chosen bigger numbers – bigger means better, right – but that's the main difference in the overall branding.

More details have emerged about the VNX range. The VNX5100 can have up to 75 drives; the 5300 up to 125; the 5500 up to 250; and the 5700 500 and the 7500 around 1,000. All the drives have SAS interfaces and comprise enterprise SAS, nearline SAS and solid state drives (SSDs). We would assess these systems as having a SAS backplane and not using a Fibre Channel arbitrated loop.

The VNX5100 has no I/O slots; the 5300 has 4 to 8; the 5500 has 4 to 13; the 5700 has 6 to 18; and the 7500 has six to 42. As we previously surmised, they will be sold in file access, block access or unified storage form. For file access, the number of X-blade controllers rises as we go up the model range from 5100 to 7500 – being 0, 1 to 2 (plus 6GB/blade of system memory), 1 to 3 (12GB/blade), 2 to 4 (12GB/blade), and 2 to 8 (24GB/blade). The number of storage processors (SP) for block access does not rise, staying constant at 2, but the memory per SP rises from 4GB for the 5100 and passes through 8GB, 12GB, 18GB and on to 24GB for the 7500.

Supported file access protocols are NFS, CIFS, MPFS (Celerra Multi-Path File System), and pNFS. The block access protocols are Fibre Channel, FCoE and iSCSI, with the 5100 only supporting Fibre Channel.

The VNX products are the migration path for current CLARiiON and Celerra products, which will continue to be sold and supported. The VNX7500 is the migration product for Celerra NS960 and CLARiiON CX4-960 requirements. The 5700 and 5500 take over from the NS-480 Celerra systems and CX4-480 and 240 arrays. The 5300 and 52100 will eventually replace the NS-120 and CLARiiON CX4-120 and AX4 products. There will be non-disruptive upgrades through the VNX5000 range from the 5100 to the 5700.

In other words, we are talking about storage products for the upper half of the mid-market and enterprise business customers. EMC envisages the buyer being an infrastructure and/or storage specialist who is looking for efficiency, performance, features and functionality, and upgradeability.

For the VNX, EMC is bundling up its storage software into packs. Base systems come with Unisphere management, file deduplication and compression, block compression, virtual provisioning and SAN Copy. A FAST Suite adds FAST VP, FAST Cache, UnisphereAnalyzer and Quality of Service Manager.

There is also a Security and Compliance Suite, a Local Protection Suite, a Remote Protection Suite and an Application Protection Suite. The packs will be grouped into a Total Efficiency Pack and a Total Protection Pack. However, the 5100 is limited in the software it can run – it does not support FAST VP, VEE, FLR, Replicator or SnapSure software products.

As well as competing with NetApp products, the VNX5000 and 7000 will compete with IBM's XIV and the HP 3PAR arrays.

Both the 5000 and 7000 will be positioned as being ideal for virtualisation needs, twinning VSphere and Microsoft applications as one focus, with others being Oracle and VMware, and virtual desktops with VMware View.

We expect a whole raft of performance data coming out on 18 January, with NetApp-beating benchmarks. There is a rumour that Symmetrix arrays are going to be involved with the EMC performance webcast extravaganza as well as the VNX boxes. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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