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Face-Off: EMC DMX-3 vs. Hitachi USP1100

Ezine

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EMC and Hitachi use very different architectures for their top-of-the-line arrays. Here's how they measure up.


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In DMX's corner

Vincent Hilly, managing director, data administration at Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC)
Business: Protecting financial trade information
Scale: Hundreds of terabytes in production
Challenge: Span multiple sites with heavy replication loads
Major consideration: Operate in a highly regulated environment
Array choice: EMC Corp. Symmetrix DMX-3
Key criteria: "I needed unquestionable scale, performance and reliability."
Selling point: "EMC's maturity in advanced replication beats anyone."
In the future: Use DMX-3 to expand tiering strategy



In USP's corner

Lance Smith, managing director of storage services at Atos Origin
Business: Providing on-demand global IT services
Scale: Nearly 1 petabyte in production
Challenge: High-growth heterogeneous customers, multiple sites
Major considerations: "Reducing cost for storage services without sacrificing reliability."
Array choice: Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Corp. USP1100
Key criteria: Rapid provisioning, heterogeneous migrations
Selling point: "HDS promised scalable production virtualization and they delivered."
In the future: Use USP as cornerstone for on-demand storage and information lifecycle management strategy

Ask any senior IT executive in a large enterprise to describe their "storage strategy" and you probably won't hear about their fabric architecture or storage management software--and you certainly won't hear about their information lifecycle management strategy. The IT brass will most likely want to talk about the tier-one storage array they deploy. In the rarefied air of multihundred terabyte or multipetabyte tier-one production environments, the storage array is the anchor for storage decision-making. With just four words, "We're a DMX shop" or "We're a USP shop," a storage architect telegraphs a wealth of information about their entire storage strategy.

These top-of-the-line multipetabyte behemoths are much more than mere physical storage devices. In a very real sense, the EMC Corp. Symmetrix DMX-3 and the Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) Corp. TagmaStore Universal Storage Platform (USP) 1100 are bellwethers for what the storage industry will deliver in coming years, with each platform showcasing not only the most advanced capabilities of EMC and HDS, but their philosophy about how IT teams should deploy, manage, grow and protect their infrastructures. EMC and HDS are locked in a fierce battle for control of the data center that could shape the broader enterprise IT infrastructure for years to come.

At first blush, a direct comparison between DMX and USP seems easy enough: Both vendors leverage cache extensively across a multicontroller architecture, claim petabyte (PB)-range scaling and millions of aggregate IOPS, support many combinations of disk types, and offer clear paths to storage consolidation and virtualization. However, as many prospective customers who have looked at both arrays in detail can attest, making a fine-grained "apples-to-apples" comparison between EMC DMX-3 and HDS USP1100 can be exceedingly difficult, even for experienced storage managers.

The reason it's difficult to directly compare the two arrays is that their core architectures are so distinct. Understanding these differences in design approach and philosophy is at the very core of understanding not only DMX-3 and USP1100, but the strategic trajectories of EMC and HDS.

This was first published in January 2007

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