by Brian Beeler

EMC Next Generation VNX Series Released - ViPR, VSPEX, XtremSW Cache Updates

EMC has announced new technology enhancements to its VNX line of storage solutions that aim to position them at the pinnacle of storage in data center environments. Dubbed EMC VNX2 by the industry if not EMC themselves, the new VNX incorporates substantial changes to the platform that are highlighted by a new controller designed to work with flash storage and better utilization of multi-core processors for increased throughput. The net results are big gains in application performance, especially in virtualized environments, and a reduction in overall system size required to meet customer requirements. EMC is also using their Milan launch event to update the VSPEX reference architecture, release XtremSW Cache version 2.0 and announce the imminent release of ViPR software defined storage platform. Our live event coverage can be seen on the StorageReview Twitter feed.

A key component of the new VNX release is EMC’s MCx (Multicore optimization) software, which leverages Intel’s increasingly powerful multi-core processing technology. This allows VNX data services to optimize utilization across a maximum of 32 cores, spreading the work more evenly and thus delivering more reliable and predictable performance. There are significant sizing benefits as well, the VNX7500 for instance could support 1,100 VMs. Thanks to MCx the VNX8000 can attain 6,600 VMs.

From a performance perspective the new VNX storage unit offers substantial performance improvements for applications like VMware over NFS with 60% faster response times than previous VNX systems. With regard to high transactional environments, the VNX8000 single array achieved more than 735,000 concurrent Oracle and SQL OLTP IOPS, a 400% improvement over the previous VNX7500 system. Compared to the older releases of VNX storage this new generation exhibits over 3 times the bandwidth with up to 30GB/sec for Oracle and SQL data warehousing.

In addition to being able to take better advantage of the processing cores, EMC made several enhancements around how the system treats flash. Previous VNX systems accepted flash, but the controllers were designed for spinning media. As flash performance continues to scale and applications are becoming "flash aware" to take advantage of a flash volume or tier, VNX controllers have had to adapt. The new VNX controllers are ready to take full advantage of flash, no longer bottlenecking potential performance. Flash can be seamlessly integrated into the VNX pools to provide increased response time for hot data while less active data remains on nearline HDDs. Also embedded in the new VNX is fixed block deduplication which reduces storage needs overall and further protects the in-system flash from excessive writes, lengthening the lifespan of flash. The EMC FAST suite has also been updated including 4X better tiering granularity and support for new eMLC flash drives, further improving the value proposition for flash within VNX.

For those wishing to leverage flash as more than a mechanism to auto-tier hot data, EMX is also offering the VNX7600-F, which is an all flash configuration that provides up to 500,000 8K IOPS and scales to 400TB. EMC of course also offers all-flash arrays in their XtremIO platform. The XtremIO is a pure performance play however and thus more expensive than the VNX7600-F and is managed and deployed differently than the VNX line.

EMC's new VNX offerings pick up new product numbers as part of this update. The new units carry even model numbers and all units can accept Flash, NL-SAS or SAS drives. The systems scale in capacity and support for FAST Cache as such:

  • VNX5200: 125 drives, up to 600GB FAST Cache
  • VNX5400: 250 drives, up to 1TB FAST Cache
  • VNX5600: 500 drives, up to 2TB Fast Cache
  • VNX5800: 750 drives, up to 3TB FAST Cache
  • VNX7600: 1000 drives up to 4.2TB FAST Cache
  • VNX8000: 1500 drives (1000 drives at launch), up to 4.2TB FAST Cache

EMC VNX Specifications

Aside from the VNX5200, which will ship in Q42013, all new VNX systems are available now from channel partners. For those who prefer their storage in something other than black may enjoy the limited edition VNX5400 Lotus Team F1 arrays that come designed with the Lotus team colors. 

EMC VSPEX Update

EMC VSPEX is the company's rapidly growing reference architecture that is designed to simplify cloud storage deployments. With the new VNX refresh, EMC adds four new VSPEX configurations to the portfolio leveraging the VNX5400, VNX5600 and VNX5800. With the enhancements to VNX, VSPEX solutions can now deliver up to 1,000 virtual machines, twice the VMs and hence twice the value.

In addition to the inclusion of new primary storage options with the new VNX units, EMC has also expanded VSPEX to include the new Data Domain DD 2500, DD 4200, Avamar 7, and VMware vSphere Data Protection Advanced. There is also a new VSPEX with RecoverPoint solution which gives customers the option to choose the backup and data protection solution that properly sizes to their data and application requirements.

Enhanced VSPEX configurations include:

  • VSPEX for Citrix - end user computing is being enhanced with Citrix XenDesktop 7 – Expected to be available 2H2013
  • VSPEX with Avamar 7 and new Data Domain DD2500 DD4200 systems – Expected to be GA in 2H2013
  • VSPEX for VMware private cloud - is being enhanced with VMware vSphere 5.5 – Available this month
  • VSPEX for VMware end user computing - is being enhanced with VMware Horizon View 5.2 – Scheduled to be available 2H2013
  • VSPEX for virtualized Microsoft SQL Server 2012 and VSPEX for virtualized Oracle 11g – Available now
  • VSPEX for virtualized Microsoft Sharepoint 2013 and VSPEX for virtualized Microsoft Exchange 2013 – Scheduled to be available 2H2013.

Four new VSPEX configurations across two new solutions include:

  • Three new VSPEX configurations for end user computing with Citrix XenDesktop 7 on Microsoft Hyper-V – Scheduled to be available 2H2013
  • Continuous Replication – VSPEX continuous replication with RecoverPoint – Scheduled to be available 2H2013

In the brief 17 month lifespan of VSPEX EMC has shipped 3,600 VSPEX systems across 3,000 customers. VSPEX systems are available through the EMC Velocity partner program and include software and components from Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Intel, Microsoft, and VMware.

EMC VNX-CA

EMC has launched a new VNX-CA continuous availability solution for block data that uses the VPLEX virtual storage capabilities to deliver CA services. EMC will also offer a Continuous Availability Advisory Service to assist customers with the planning and utilization of VNX-CA. The net result is a combined system that helps businesses achieve higher levels of service to their users via superior delivery of application uptime. General availability of VNX-CA is expected in 4Q2013.

EMC XtremSW Cache 2.0

EMC's caching software XtremSW has been updated to 2.0. XtremSW Cache 2.0 will allow deeper integration with storage arrays that further lowers latency by 65% for host-side caching with database applications, while also driving 31% more IOPS. XtremSW also provides greater ease of management with integration with Unisphere for VNX and VMware vCenter. EMC has also added advanced support for IBM AIX and Oracle RAC environments. XtremSW Cache 2.0 is available now from EMC and their channel partners, XtremSW 2.0 cache coherency for Oracle RAC will be available in Q4 of 2013. 

EMC ViPR Coming this Month

At EMC World 2013, the most obvious push was around ViPR, the company's software defined storage platform designed to bring coherency and visibility into potentially all storage within a customer's environment. EMC initially planned for a second-half 2013 release of ViPR, however today they're announcing general availability will be later this month, ahead of many industry expectations. At launch ViPR will deliver object data services (ODS) with support for APIs including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and Atmos. ViPR ODS are available on any ViPR-supported file storage including EMC VNX, Isilon and NetApp arrays; future updates will support commodity storage hardware. 

To help ViPR adoption and to ease deployments, in 4Q2013 EMC Global Services will offer a half-day workshop to help customers identify storage management, control, and automation needs to best utilize the ViPR platform.

EMC VNX Storage

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