« 4.002: Does page size matter -- a rebuttal | Main | 4.004: vmax and vmaxe cameo appearances »

July 13, 2011

4.003: a big thing in a small package


  • Start with the world's most Powerful, Trusted and Smart enterprise storage array, hardened by almost 23 years of protecting the world's most critical information assets.
  • Scale down its Intel-based infrastructure and dial-back its innovative scale-out architecture to optimize for less-demanding enterprise environments.
  • Remove the layers of complexity associated with supporting legacy hosts such as mainframes and iSeries to simplify configuration and operations.
  • Eliminate physical drive and RAID configuration altogether and pre-configure the array at the factory for pool-based Virtual Provisioning to radically simplify resource allocation and management while maximizing utilization efficiency.
  • Allow customers to add factory-configured Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST VP) to further drive down the acquisition AND operational costs of both capacity AND performance.
  • For local and remote data protection, include the world's most widely adopted heterogeneous Continuous Data Protection and Remote Replication capability, EMC RecoverPoint.
  • Simplify the product installation to no more than a 4 hours to power-up, and 4 minutes to first I/O after the keys are handed over to the customer.
  • Package that all in standard 19" racks configured to optimize floor tile utilization, requiring only single-phase power as evidence of reduced power requirements and deployment simplicity.
  • Oh, and don't forget the trademark blue LED bar and one of those fancy little "e" thingies that the VNX guys introduced earlier this year.

What do you get?


emc Symmetrix VMAXe, that's what!

Optimized for enterprises with requirements that fall somewhere between the robust capabilities of EMC's VNX (mid-tier) and the smaller end of VMAX (enterprise) platforms, VMAXe brings the proven reliability and scale of the Symmetrix massively parallel multi-controller architecture to an expanded range of customers, markets and geographies.

All but gone is the complexity of yesteryear that competitors continually try to associate with today's Symmetrix. Factory pre-configured, rapid delivery and streamlined storage management. Pool-based Virtual Provisioning that simplifies storage allocation down to "how many gigabytes, to which host(s)?" – delivered in minutes and key clicks instead of hours with spreadsheets. Add in FAST VP, and answer one more question "with what performance policy," and the system does the rest – balancing capacity across 2- or 3-tiers based on the policy and the workloads dynamically changing working set. Need local or remote replication? Easy – add in RecoverPoint, natively integrated to simplify deployment, configuration and operations. And you can even use a VNX as the remote target for VMAXe – or vice versa!

By eliminating unnecessary "distractions" (i.e., features not typically used in greenfield deployments of an array), VMAXe delivers extremely competitive operational efficiency without sacrificing the power, trust and innovation that is the foundation of Symmetrix burgeoning market share (>50% in Q1'11, according to IDC Storage Tracker).

Built upon standard 19" racks and employing reduced built-in battery hold-up, VMAXe reduces power, space and cooling requirements. The packaging also enables new deployment flexibility such as system bay dispersion, such that expansion bays need not be physically adjacent to the initial cabinet(s) – flexibility that is demanded in today's increasingly overcrowded data centers.

Improved simplicity and scaled back does not mean dumbed down, however. Built upon the same core Virtual Matrix architecture and the latest release of Enginuity (5875+), VMAXe delivers the same access security, end-to-end data integrity, unparalleled FAST VP automation, and even Federated Live Migration (FLM) for non-disruptive tech refresh from the Symmetrix DMX family.

  • Space efficient Thin Provisioning with inherent Wide Striping? Check.
  • Zero Space Reclaim on demand and via the new T10 WRITE_SAME and UNMAP? Check.
  • FC, FCoE and iSCSI host connect? Check.
  • Dynamic Cache Partitioning? Check.
  • Role-based administration and performance management? Check.
  • Flash, Enterprise and Bulk Capacity Drives? Check.
  • VMware integration with Virtual Storage Integrator (VSI) and VAAI? Check.
  • SMI-S management APIs? Check.
  • Operational compatibility with Symmetrix VMAX? Check.

the secret sauce

And for my readers who come here for the inside scoop on things, one of the key differences of VMAXe vs. VMAX is how it leverages the Intel Xeon processor architecture. Where VMAX engines are built upon the Quad-core Intel "Harperton" processors (8 cores per Director, 16 per engine) and PCIe Gen1, VMAXe leverages the newer PCIe Gen2 and Hyper-threaded Intel "Westmere" processors (4 cores per Director, 8 per Engine). Yet each VMAXe engine supports similar the same number of open systems front-end connections and the same number of back-end (redundant) drive channels.


The secret is the aforementioned Hyper-threading, which allows each core to execute two separate program streams simultaneously. The version of Enginuity for VMAXe thus operates "identically" to that on a standard VMAX, only it uses 8 "virtual cores" (my term, not Intel's) instead of 8 real cores, gleaning increased performance out of a lower-cost processor complex.

Cool, huh?

new markets, new channels, new opportunities

But what is really important is that VMAXe brings the power of Symmetrix VMAX to an entirely new set of customers. VMAX enterprise customers may find VMAXe ideal for departmental or development deployments. And Service Providers looking for robust availability, predictable performance and simplified deployment along with market-leading VMware and HyperV integration will undoubtedly want to take a look at VMAXe.

But of course, the primary target is those smaller enterprises whose performance and availability requirements exceed that of the traditional "mid-tier" products, but whose budgets and scale requirements can't support a full-blown VMAX. For these customers, a 2-engine VMAXe will be a better fit than a stripped-down single-engine VMAX – and they'll still have room to grow, up to the maximum 960 drives (~1.3PB usable) that a 4-engine VMAXe can support.

Many of these customers will be found in the traditional market spaces and geographies. But perhaps the majority of them will fall outside of EMC's direct-sales footprint, and in emerging markets where channels play a bigger role in technology delivery. A key part of the VMAXe plan is to embrace and expand the reseller channel for the product, and the product pricing, packaging and delivery has been developed to be very channel-friendly.

of overlaps and such

Although there's probably nobody left who believe that any single storage platform can meet all imaginable storage requirements, there will undoubtedly be some who will question the logic of adding yet another new storage platform to EMC's already broad portfolio. On paper, (they will argue), it is already so confusing.

I think it's rather simple, actually:


See, the stark reality is that overlap is not only a good thing (it leaves no gaps for competitive intrusion), it is a very formidable competitive advantage as well. Overlap in the portfolio affords an EMC sales representative (direct or channel) a unique advantage: the ability to offer choice and fit-for-purpose. Where start-ups and one-trick ponies must seek out customers whose needs fit their particular capabilities, EMC offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to meet virtually any storage requirement a customer may have. With sales cycles that can stretch for months and purchase decisions based upon not only the price of the deal, but the trust and commitment between the supplier and the consumer, having the right product(s) that are tailor-made for whatever the the customers' needs may be helps to optimize both customer satisfaction and selling efficiency.

Whether block, file, object or backup, for Home, SOHO, small-, medium- or large- enterprises – EMC has the most comprehensive storage portfolio on the planet.

I could go on, but in the course of preparing for the launch of VMAXe, one of the industry analysts seemed to find just the rights words to explain the overall VMAXe strategy and the important role it will fulfill in the EMC portfolio. If you will, take a moment to review the Product Brief written by Mark Peters, Senior Analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group: EMC Symmetrix VMAXe: A Missing Piece of the Storage Jigsaw.

ESG Senior Analyst Terri McClure adds her perspectives in this short video:



No, not really Winking

OK, seriously, there are definitely other products in this space, although none with the pedigree of Symmetrix. Without naming names, one is getting rather long in the tooth, having missed a refresh cycle due to an acquisition (and a confusing product portfolio). Another has recently updated its hardware, yet still is hampered by poor raw capacity utilization and slllloooooooowwwwwww response times due to its dependency upon only mirrored SATA/Fat SAS capacity.

With VMAXe as a very real challenger (it has already won several competitive deals since it began shipping late last quarter), I am confident that we will see competitive reactions in short order.

Let the games begin!



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 4.003: a big thing in a small package:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Chris McNally

Exciting stuff here. I can definitely see this filling a huge need. Can't wait to get more details.

The comments to this entry are closed.

anarchy cannot be moderated

the storage anarchist

View Barry Burke's profile on LinkedIn Digg Facebook FriendFeed LinkedIn Ning Other... Other... Other... Pandora Technorati Twitter Typepad YouTube


I am unabashedly an employee of EMC, but the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. I am a blogger who works at EMC, not an EMC blogger. This is my blog, and not EMC's. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by EMC and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of EMC.

search & follow

search blogs by many emc employees:

search this blog only:

 posts feed
      Subscribe by Email
 comments feed

 visit the anarchist @home
follow me on twitter follow me on twitter

TwitterCounter for @storageanarchy

recommended reads

privacy policy

This blog uses Google Ads to serve relevant ads with posts & comments. Google may use DoubleClick cookies to collect information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide ads about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and your options for not having this information used by Google, please visit the Google Privacy Center.

All comments and trackbacks are moderated. Courteous comments always welcomed.

Email addresses are requested for validation of comment submitters only, and will not be shared or sold.

Use OpenDNS