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


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Listening to EMC customers, one consistently clear and distinct advantage that comes up is the company's reliability for performance at scale. "DMX is where we looked to establish our highest quality of service for our customers," says John Halamka, CIO at CareGroup Health System and Harvard Medical School. "We can reliably run all of our mission-critical production servers back to the DMX platform."

The DMX-3 provides a wide range of support for drive type, speed and size configurations, as well as for performance-to-capacity tuning. This is a platform designed with the largest Fortune 500 mission-critical environments in mind. In the unlikely event a customer chose to pack a single DMX-3 with its absolute maximum drive capacity of 2,400 500GB drives, it could max out at 1.1PB inside the array. As such, EMC wins the theoretical in-array scaling story, hands down. The DMX line has also made some significant advances in automating the ease of online provisioning. When combined with the various drive types and speeds that are supported, it makes sense that EMC places so much emphasis on physical consolidation: The company has a viable story for supporting it.

What to consider
At a technical level, the USP and DMX-3 execute their scaling functions very differently, but both approaches are highly automated for multiple disk types. More importantly, the ultimate scalability difference between the two arrays has everything

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to do with the customer's own strategy for scaling: Does the storage infrastructure demand purely internal capacity, or a mix of internal and external scale? How does the scaling strategy align with one's tiering strategy and infrastructure workflow?

The HDS pitch: Virtualization should be executed at the storage controller level. This provides the best ease-of-use and flexibility for the infrastructure. Doing network-based virtualization like EMC proposes creates more complexity.

The EMC pitch: Customers demand multiple approaches to virtualization and EMC will support this reality. Today, most of what HDS claims as benefits of virtualization can be accomplished with other tools. The HDS approach to controller-based virtualization is too rigid.

The real issue: HDS is married to a controller-based strategy for its USP. Customers have to embrace this. EMC redirects today's virtualization requirements toward in-box DMX flexibility and tools while its network-based approach matures.

This was first published in January 2007

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