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EMC VMAX 10K, Looks Like High-End Storage Systems Are Still Alive

EMC has announced an upgrade, refresh or new version of their previously announced Virtual matrix

This is the first in a multi-part series of posts looking at if large enterprise and legacy storage systems are dead, along with what todays EMC VMAX 10K updates means.

EMC has announced an upgrade, refresh or new version of their previously announced Virtual matrix (VMAX) 10,000 (10K), part of the VMAX family of enterprise class storage systems formerly known as DMX (Direct Matrix) and Symmetrix. I will get back to more coverage on the VMAX 10K and other EMC enhancements in a few moments in part two and three of this series.

Have you heard the industry myth about the demise or outright death of traditional storage systems? This has been particularly the case for high-end enterprise class systems, which by the way which were first, declared dead back in the mid-1990s then at the hands of emerging mid-range storage systems.

Enterprise class storage systems include EMC VMAX, Fujitsu Eternus DX8700, HDS, HP XP P9000 based on the HDS high-end product (OEM from HDS parent Hitachi Ltd.). Note that some HPers or their fans might argue that the P10000 (formerly known as 3PAR) declared as tier 1.5 should also be on the list; I will leave that up to you to decide.

Let us not forget the IBM DS8000 series (whose predecessors was known as the ESS and VSS before that); although some IBMers will tell you that XIV should also be in this list. High-end enterprise class storage systems such as those mentioned above are not alone in being declared dead at the hands of new all solid-state devices (SSD) and their startup vendors, or mixed and hybrid-based solutions.

Some are even declaring dead due to new SSD appliances or systems, and by storage hypervisor or virtual storage array (VSA) the traditional mid-range storage systems that were supposed to have killed off the enterprise systems a decade ago (hmm, DejaVu?).

The mid-range storage systems include among others block (SAN and DAS) and file (NAS) systems from Data Direct Networks (DDN), Dell Complement, EqualLogic and MD series (Netapp Engenio based), EMC VNX and Isilon, Fujitsu Eternus, and HDS HUS mid-range formerly known as AMS. Let us not forget about HP 3PAR or P2000 (DotHill based) or P6000 (EVA which is probably being put out to rest). Then there are the various IBM products (their own and what they OEM from others), NEC, NetApp (FAS and Engenio), Oracle and Starboard (formerly known as Reldata). Note that there are many startups that could be in the above list as well if they were not considering the above to be considered dead, thus causing themselves to also be extinct as well, how ironic ;).

What are some industry trends that I am seeing?

  • Some vendors and products might be nearing the ends of their useful lives
  • Some vendors, their products and portfolios continue to evolve and expand
  • Some vendors and their products are moving into new or adjacent markets
  • Some vendors are refining where and what to sell when and to who
  • Some vendors are moving up market, some down market
  • Some vendors are moving into new markets, others are moving out of markets
  • Some vendors are declaring others dead to create a new market for their products
  • One size or approach or technology does not fit all needs, avoid treating all the same
  • Leverage multiple tools and technology in creative ways
  • Maximize return on innovation (the new ROI) by using various tools, technologies in ways to boost productivity, effectiveness while removing complexity and cost
  • Realization that cutting cost can result in reduced resiliency, thus look for and remove complexity with benefit of removing costs without compromise
  • Storage arrays are moving into new roles, including as back-end storage for cloud, object and other software stacks running on commodity servers to replace JBOD (DejaVu anyone?).

Keep in mind that there is a difference between industry adoption (what is talked about) and customer deployment (what are actually bought and used). Likewise there is technology based on GQ (looks and image) and G2 (functionality, experience).

There is also an industry myth that SSD cannot or has not been successful in traditional storage systems which in some cases has been true with some products or vendors. Otoh, some vendors such as EMC, NetApp and Oracle (among others) are having good success with SSD in their storage systems. Some SSD startup vendors have been more successful on both the G2 and GQ front, while some focus on the GQ or image may not be as successful (or at least yet) in the industry adoption vs. customer deployment game.

For the above mentioned storage systems vendors and products (among others), or at least for most of them there is still have plenty of life in them, granted their role and usage is changing including in some cases being found as back-end storage systems behind servers running virtualization, cloud, object storage and other storage software stacks. Likewise, some of the new and emerging storage systems (hardware, software, valueware, services) and vendors have bright futures while others may end up on the where are they now list.

Are high-end enterprise class or other storage arrays and systems dead at the hands of new startups, virtual storage appliances (VSA), storage hypervisors, storage virtualization, virtual storage and SSD?

Are large storage arrays dead at the hands of SSD?

Have SSDs been unsuccessful with storage arrays (with poll)?


Here are links to two polls where you can cast your vote.

Cast your vote and see results of if large storage arrays and systems are dead here.

Cast your vote and see results of if SSD has not been successful in storage systems.

So what about it, are enterprise or large storage arrays and systems dead?

Perhaps in some tabloids or industry myths (or that some wish for) or in some customer environments, as well as for some vendors or their products that can be the case.

However, IMHO for many other environments (and vendors) the answer is no, granted some will continue to evolve from legacy high-end enterprise class storage systems to mid-range or to appliance or VSA or something else.

There is still life many of the storage systems architectures, platforms and products that have been declared dead for over a decade.

Continue reading about the specifics of the EMC VMAX 10K announcement in the next post in this series here. Also check out Chucks EMC blog to see what he has to say.

Ok, nuff said for now.

Disclosure: EMC is not a StorageIO client; however, they have been in the past directly and via acquisitions that they have done. I am however a customer of EMC via my Iomega IX4 NAS (I never did get the IX2 that I supposedly won at EMCworld ;) ) that I bought on Amazon.com and indirectly via VMware products that I have, oh, and they did sent me a copy of the new book Human Face of Big Data (read more here).

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier, 2004)

twitter @storageio

All Comments, (C) and (TM) belong to their owners/posters, Other content (C) Copyright 2006-2013 StorageIO All Rights Reserved

Cheers Gs

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More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.

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