EMC, Leaving HDDs Behind, Unveils Several New Flash Arrays

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2016-02-29 Print this article Print

The new DSSD D5 (direct-attached solid-state disk) is attached directly to the processor in order to enable real-time data processing and real-time analytics.

EMC, busy being bought by Dell, also was busy on the new-products side Feb. 29, unveiling a new heavy-duty all-NAND flash array, a re-engineered VMAX all-flash array and new software for mainframes at the SHARE 2016 conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Fundamentally, EMC is kissing good-bye to hard-disk drives with this news, none of which involves spinning disk storage. This is not a trivial pursuit in the data storage business. However, one can hardly fault EMC for pushing hard on solid-state; the XtremIO all-flash platform, which the company bought for a reported bargain price of $425 million in 2012, has become the fastest-growing product in its nearly 30-year history.

"XtremIO is our flagship in the flash marketplace, and it's been exceptionally successful. We went from no revenue in 2013 to over $1 billion in revenue in 2015," David Goulden, EMC's CEO of Information Infrastructure, told eWEEK.

"We have 40 percent market share in the old flash marketplace. It's an incredible workhorse. Most of our users can run 50 to 60 percent of their workloads with an XtremIO."

However, XtremIO wasn't designed to handle the very large-scale big data workloads that a growing number of enterprises are now encountering, thanks to the always-increasing deluge of data they are collecting. That's where the upgraded and re-engineered VMAX system comes to the rescue, Goulden said.

Can Handle All Workloads in the New Flash World

"Using XtremIO in the core and a VMAX next to it lets you address, between those two, all the workloads in the all-flash world. The VMAX brings in more processing power in addition to replication, recovery, data services and other functions," Goulden said.

Those are Parts 1 and 2 of the current EMC story. Part 3 involves a new set of workloads emerging that require "blindingly fast performance, 10 times the performance of even a VMAX, a tenth of the response time of a VMAX, and that's where the DSSD D5 fits in, as not even a storage array but as a new architecture that we call Rack-Scale Flash Storage," Goulden said.

This DSSD (direct-attached solid-state disk) is attached directly to the processor in order to enable real-time data processing and real-time analytics and insight, Goulden said.

The DSSD D5 brings ultra-dense, high-performance, highly available and very low latency shared flash storage for up to 48 clients. D5 is connected to each node through PCIe Gen3 and leverages NVMe technology, which delivers the performance of PCI-attached flash.

NVMe is a communications interface/protocol developed specially for SSDs by a consortium of vendors, including Intel, Samsung, Sandisk, Dell and Seagate. Like SCSI and Serial ATA, NVMe is designed to take advantage of the unique properties of pipeline-rich, random access, memory-based storage.

D5: Up to 10 Million IOPS

At the same time, the D5 is a stand-alone appliance that is disaggregated from servers and delivers the benefits of shared storage. The result is next-generation performance with average latency as low as 100 microseconds, throughput as high as 100GB per second, and input/output operations per second (IOPS) of up to 10 million, Goulden said.

Key specs of the D5: The appliance provides up to 36 flash modules with 144TB raw (100TB usable) capacity, in a five rack-unit chassis that can be accessed redundantly by up to 48 direct-attached clients. D5 is also engineered to provide increased application uptime through enterprise-class availability and serviceability features. These features include dual-ported client cards, dual H/A controllers, redundant components and industry-leading flash reliability and resiliency with Cubic RAID, dynamic wear leveling, flash physics control and space-time garbage collection.

Brian Dougherty, chief technical architect at CMA Consulting in New York, said he has been testing the D5.

"We're running some of the most complex workloads in the world, but traditional flash couldn't offer the performance or bandwidth we wanted to service our applications or analyze our data in real time," Dougherty said. "DSSD D5 has fundamentally changed our business by eliminating unnecessary software, hardware and pre-processed batch jobs. With DSSD, we're able to support applications and analytics at never-before-seen speeds; this is what enabled us to make the leap to this new generation of flash storage, and we're not looking back."

EMC DSSD D5 will become generally available in March 2016. Go here for more information.

VMAX All-Flash Natively Supports Block, File and Open Systems

EMC's new VMAX All Flash is the company's the first all-flash storage array to natively support block, file, open systems and mainframe with the ability to scale up to 4PB of data, Goulden said.

Each module here is a called a V-Brick, because they can all plug together to scale a full system. A V-Brick contains one VMAX engine and starts with 53TB of usable capacity. The VMAX All Flash 450 can be configured to include one to four V-Bricks and the VMAX All Flash 850 up to eight V-Bricks, allowing users to scale-out performance and ports by adding additional V-Bricks.

Additional scale-up capacity can be achieved by adding 13TB Usable Flash Capacity Packs.

VMAX All Flash is speedy: It moves data at millions of IOPS and sustains under 1 millisecond of latency for read/write workloads while supporting up to 150GB per second of bandwidth, the company said. It supports a range of applications, including Oracle, VMware, Microsoft and OpenStack. VMAX All Flash also provides Restful APIs to facilitate data center integration.

Go here for more information.

Snapshots Are Key in New Mainframe Package

Finally, EMC announced automated snapshot capabilities for its VMAX and EMC Disk Library for IBM z Systems mainframe storage products.

With VMAX support for mainframes, in both the VMAX3 and the new VMAX All Flash products, users can modernize, automate and consolidate disparate data center technologies within a simplified, high-performance data services platform, Chris Ratcliffe, senior vice president of marketing at EMC Core Technologies, told eWEEK.

EMC also has upgraded VMAX3's automated performance tiering functionality to the mainframe. The VMAX lineup now offers twice the processing power in a third of the footprint for mainframe users, Ratcliffe said. In updating data protection for the mainframe, the company instituted its first automated snapshot solution for mainframe storage, called zDP (Data Protector for z Systems).

EMC also unveiled updates to its Disk Library for mainframes (DLm). The new DLm4.4 breaks down data silos associated with disk libraries by creating an all-encompassing view of two virtual tape systems with the ability to read from, write to and update the other.


Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz


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