Deep beneath a glitzy New York City product launch Jan. 18 that included a couple of nonsensical stunts -- 26 people cramming into a Mini Cooper and a daredevil motorcyle jumper flying over 40 side-by-side storage racks in Miami, Fla. -- EMC revealed one all-important fact:
The company has finally written new storage software that eventually will replace all the now-creaky code that was first written more than two decades ago.
A number of EMC customers have confided to eWEEK during the past few years that this change has been needed for a long, long time.
In its messaging, EMC took a cue from Oracle when it staged one of the most extensive product launches in its 32-year history, unveiling a total of 41 new products. It focused on the same "We're the fastest" claim that Oracle uses when selling the key attributes of its database and application servers.
Whether EMC is or isn't "the fastest," of course, depends upon each IT system and workloads deployed. But the company has, in fact, increased the horsepower in its arrays with new, cooler-running multi-core processors and solid-state disk options, enhanced throughput, and added that new, leaner code that has been needed for so long.
"On the data protection side, 'fast' is still critical, because you are dealing with a fixed amount of time in your backup slot, which is a big issue because of data growth," storage analyst Brian Babineau, vice president of Research and Analyst Services at Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK.
"You cannot change the fact that there's 24 hours in a day, and you can't change the fact that your information is growing rapidly. The only thing you can do is make your stuff faster so you can deal with those two problems."
Data Domain unveils Archiver
In summary, EMC introduced: 1) a new line of low-end storage servers aimed at SMBs called VNX and VNXe, which eventually will replace the company's old Clariion and Celerra products; 2) new software for its Symmetrix VMAX systems; 3) an upgraded version of the Data Domain backup packages; 4) its first EMC-branded Isilon "big data" array; and 5) and an all-new Data Domain archiving array.
EMC President, CEO and Chairman Joe Tucci told the live and Webcast audience at the company's event that the company has come a long way during its generation-plus in business. Tucci reminded everyone that Symmetrix -- which was introduced in 1990 -- was EMC's first-ever storage array, and that it held "a whopping" 24GB of data on 5.25-inch platters.
"Now, and this is the first time I've seen this, they're actually measuring information in zettabytes," Tucci said. "So you might ask, what's a zettabyte look like? Everybody knows a terabyte, a trillion [bytes]; everybody knows a gigabyte -- a billion [bytes]. A zettabyte is a billion trillion, or a trillion billion, depending upon how you want to look at it. But it's a 1 with 21 zeroes after it. It's a tremendous amount of information."
EMC is approaching the new storage world from both ends: the high end, or "Big Data," as it has for years, and, more recently from the small-to-medium-size business end -- most specifically with the new line of storage devices the company introduced at the New York event.
Like Oracle, EMC is challenging IBM and Hewlett-Packard in the high-end storage market and HP, Dell, NetApp and many others on the midrange and SMB side.
Quick facts on the new products
Here are some quick facts on the new products. eWEEK will examine these in more detail in a separate article:
--The new VNX and VNXe storage systems, designed specifically for SMBs and offered through EMC partners, features a starting price of about $10,000. EMC says the machines can be configured in a few minutes using a wizard interface to provision e-mail boxes and storage allotments, storage targets, access controls, and other policies for up to hundreds of e-mail users. EMC insisted that no advanced IT experience is necessary to install, provision and maintain this system; a live demonstration at the event illustrated this.
--The new EMC Symmetrix VMAX software is leaner and quicker and capable of supporting petabytes of information and up to a whopping 5 million virtual machines, EMC Chief Operating Officer Pat Gelsinger said. Among the new features are an advanced version of EMC's two-year-old FAST (fully automated storage tiering) software that automatically optimizes an array based on data usage; new server virtualization, security and federation capabilities; and new operating software that doubles system performance with no hardware upgrade required.
--The new Isilon OneFS arrays, the first to come out since EMC's acquisition of the Seattle-based company last fall, handle up to 10PB of data in a single file system. Isilon machines are used by media companies for high-definition video rendering and for scientific labs for massive data-set projects.
--The new high-performance versions of the EMC Data Domain deduplication storage system that Gelsinger said are "seven times faster than our closest competitor" [thanks mostly to new software and faster chips], and the new Data Domain Archiver. "The Archiver simply means that you can simply do away with any kind of tape archiving," Gelsinger said.
About those stunts ...
By the way, the Mini Cooper stunt, performed by a lot of small people in a Connecticut-based dance troupe called Pilobolus, was done on stage before the live audience in New York. A representative of the Guinness Book of World Records observed, sanctioning it as a legitimate world record for "Most Number of People to Get Inside a Mini Cooper and Stay There for at Least Five Seconds," or somesuch.
The storage analogy was somewhat apparent: A lot of content can be crammed into a small space.
In a parallel event in Miami and shown on live video, daredevil motorcyclist Bubba Blackwell revved up his Harley-Davidson XR7, sped up a ramp, and vaulted over 40 EMC Symmetrix racks to a safe landing on a second ramp.
The storage analogy was lost on many observers.