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EMC ready to roll out Symmetrix VMAXe against 3PAR, XIV

EMC is preparing to launch a baby Symmetrix VMAX system called the VMAXe, which lacks mainframe connectivity and fills the gap between the vendor’s midrange VNX unified storage platform and the enterprise VMAX. EMC is positioning the new system squarely against Hewlett-Packard’s 3PAR and IBM’s XIV storage systems, other enterprise SAN arrays that are not built to connect to mainframes.

EMC is planning to make the system generally available this month and officially launch it in July. While its customers and partners are still under non-disclosure agreements, we’ve seen EMC documents that lay out the underlying technology, hardware specifications and the vendor’s positioning of the product.

EMC still recommends the VMAX for customers that need more capacity, data at rest encryption, hardware compression, SRDF remote replication or the ability to attach to a mainframe.

“VMAXe gives us a specific competitive advantage against some of the industry’s newer arrays, especially if you have any IBM XIV or HP 3PAR in your accounts,” read an EMC document for its sales team.

The EMC documents say the VMAXe can also compete with higher-end NetApp FAS arrays and entry level enterprise systems from IBM and Hitachi Data Systems.

The VMAxe uses a special build of the Enginuity operating system that powers the VMAX, and is 100% virtually provisioned – EMC’s version of thin provisioning. It supports FAST VP automated tiering and ships factory configured with a base software bundle that includes Timefinder for VMAXe for cloning and RecoverPoint splitter instead of SRDF for remote replication. Open Replicator and Open Migrator software are also available for moving data from competitive arrays onto the VMAXe.

EMC claims a VMAXe can install in less than four hours, and that 1 TB of storage can be provisioned in less than three minutes.

The VMAXe hardware supports up to four engines and 960 drives. An integrated system bay holds one engine and 150 drives, and a fully populated system has two additional drive bays with 180 drives apiece. The VMAX supports eight engines and 2,400 drives. VMAXe uses a quad-core engine while VMAX uses a six-core engine.

Among other differences, VMAXe has 96 GB of memory cache per engine compared to VMAX’s maximum of 128 GB, VMAXe has 64 Fibre Channel and 32 Ethernet ports while VMAX supports twice as many of each, and VMAXe scales to 1.3 PB usable capacity compared to VMAX’s 2 PB.

The VMAXe also comes with pre-selecting drive tiering configurations. A single-tier system is all 450 GB 15,000 rpm Fibre Channel drives, a two-tier system comes with 97% 2 TB SATA drives and the rest 4 Gbps FC 200 GB Flash drives, and a three-tier system has 65% SATA, 32% Fibre Channel and 3% Flash. The system’s host connectivity options include 8 Gbps Fibre Channel, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and 10 GbE iSCSI, and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE).

EMC estimates the VMAXe will cost about 15% to 20% below smaller VMAX configurations and 5% to 10% below a three-engine VMAX. The VMAXe cannot be upgraded to a VMAX.

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