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

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HDS and virtualization
HDS has a very clear recommendation for storage virtualization: Do virtualization at the storage controller level, period. Because of its ability to virtualize heterogeneous, external arrays, HDS promotes the USP's ability to create very flexible storage tiers and easily move data. Prospective customers need to understand the implications of this approach because how and when they decide to virtualize may well become a determining factor in deciding between EMC and HDS.

Certainly,

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virtualizing at the controller level with USP can provide some distinct advantages. "With the USP, we are able to get our provisioning for new capacities down to under four hours for one terabyte, as well as maintain set utilization levels across the entire tier," says Atos Origin's Smith. "This lets us begin storage forecasting ahead of demand."

For heterogeneous storage shops like Atos Origin, the controller-based virtualization approach of the USP makes great sense because it plays nice with all major vendors. Additionally, for a multihundred terabyte production environment like Atos Origin, where data migrations and rapid provisioning are critical activities, the simplicity of a consolidated management approach with the USP makes great sense.

EMC's virtualization
The word "virtualization" has many meanings in the increasingly broad world of EMC. The company has embraced a de facto "portfolio" approach to virtualization technologies, encompassing all levels of the infrastructure: hosts (VMware), network (Rainfinity for files and Invista for blocks) and, obviously, internal virtualization within the arrays themselves. All indications are that the one layer of the infrastructure EMC will likely skip is storage controller-based virtualization akin to the HDS USP.

The DMX-3 supports extensive logical and physical tiering capabilities within the array. Indeed, there's enough real estate in this array to create an internal n-tier infrastructure within DMX-3, deploying RAID 1 on higher speed, lower capacity drives (e.g., 15,000 rpm 146GB drives); a larger RAID 5 tier on 10,000 rpm 300GB drives; and an even larger set of RAID 5 drives on slower 7,200 rpm 500GB drives for testing, reporting and protection images. It's clear that in the EMC arsenal, the power of the DMX line will continue to be focused on supporting the multiplicity of high-end, consolidated workloads, not enabling heterogeneous, external virtualization of third-party arrays. For external array data movement and migrations between all Symmetrix and other storage arrays, EMC relies primarily on Open Replicator and SRDF/DM for storage movement, and Open Migrator/LM for host-based migrations. If EMC's network-resident Invista virtualization engine gains significant traction, expect EMC to embark on an all-out campaign against HDS in the "network vs. controller" virtualization debate.

This was first published in January 2007

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