EMC readies new VMAX storage; will unveil VMAX 40K at EMC World 2012

EMC’s latest VMAX storage is the VMAX 40K; the vendor will officially launch its highest end enterprise array and Enginuity software at EMC World 2012.

EMC Corp. will launch the Symmetrix VMAX 40K -- the largest capacity and fastest version of its enterprise storage-area network (SAN) platform -- later this month at EMC World 2012, according to industry sources and EMC marketing materials acquired by SearchStorage.com. EMC will also upgrade its Enginuity operating software that runs inside all VMAX models.

With the launch, the VMAX platform will consist of three models. The entry-level VMAXe introduced last year will become the VMAX 10K, while the previous high-end VMAX will become the VMAX 20K.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci spoke about the new VMAX storage systems during the vendor’s earnings report last month but didn't disclose details.

The new VMAX 40K includes twice the performance, capacity and cache memory of the VMAX 20K, according to EMC documents. The 40K is powered by 2.8 GHz Intel Westmere processors with 24 CPU cores, and a maximum of 256 GB cache memory. It scales to 4 PB capacity. It comes in dense (2.5-inch SAS drives) or standard (3.5-inch drive) cabinet configurations. The standard configuration holds 400 drives per cabinet, and 3,200 drives and 2.8 PB in eight storage bays fully loaded. The new VMAX storage array also has a quad virtual matrix architecture that provides twice as much IOPS and bandwidth between controllers.

In comparison, the VMAX 20K uses 2.3 GHz Intel Harpertown processors, 16 CPU cores and 128 GB maximum cache memory.

EMC positions the 40K as its highest performing system for OLTP/OLAP applications and hybrid storage clouds. It will compete primarily against Hitachi Data Systems Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) and the IBM DS8800 arrays.

There's no indication that EMC is upgrading the hardware for the VMX 20K and 10K, but most Enginuity enhancements will apply across all VMAX systems. These improvements include Unisphere management for VMAX, federated tiered storage, FAST VP auto-tiering, virtual provisioning for IBM System z and i environments, dynamic back-end configuration and expanded support for Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) array-based replication.

Unisphere for VMAX brings the storage management GUI for EMC’s midrange VNX platform to VMAX, providing a common management system for organizations that use VNX and VMAX. Used instead of Symmetrix Management Console and Symmetrix Performance Analyzer, Unisphere customers can provision and monitor VMAX arrays from one screen.

EMC will support federated tiered storage on the new VMAX 40K and the VMAX 20K. Federated tiered storage lets customers use other storage arrays behind the VMAX storage array. When used with FAST VP, VMAX arrays can serve as the highest storage tier with other arrays forming a lower tier. Federated tiered storage has full data integrity and valid checksums so VNX will check any data written to or read from external arrays.

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VMAX enhancements from EMC World 2011

Virtual provisioning for IBM System z and i wide stripes data across devices in a virtual pool for load balancing and resource sharing across applications. FAST VP is also supported in System z and i platforms for VMAX 40K and 20K with Enginuity 5876.

Enginuity 5876 also uses system calls instead of Initial Microcode Load (IML) for configuration changes. That allows for drives, RAID groups, logical volumes, and static RDF pairs to be added and removed without downtime.

The Enginuity upgrade allows VMAX 10K systems to use SRDF to replicate to 40K and 20K arrays, and enables three-site replication between VMAX storage arrays and older DMX-4 and DMX-3 arrays. Enginuity 5876 provides SRDF awareness for FAST VP, sharing performance metrics between replicated systems.

Other enhancements include moving the RecoverPoint splitter inside the VMAX arrays so they can remotely replicate to heterogeneous arrays, and the availability of TimeFinder VP Snap on all VMAX systems.

One industry insider familiar with the VMAX upgrade called it “a typical three-year tech refresh. Bigger, faster, more features. The one key software feature is the move to Unisphere management. This unifies the look and feel between VMAX and VNX. That makes for a simpler management console.”

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