Monday, 29 February 2016 22:01

EMC says it's time to go all-flash

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Storage vendor EMC has decided flash is now the technology of choice for primary storage, and its future products will only use disk for bulk and archive storage.

EMC's commitment to an all-flash future for primary storage was made alongside its announcement of two new all-flash storage products joining the existing XtremIO all-flash arrays.

Vmax All Flash is said to be the first all-flash array with native support for block, file, open systems and mainframe use with scalability to 4PB.

Two models are available initially, the Vmax 450 and Vmax 850, both designed around EMC's V-Brick architecture. Each V-Brick starts with one controller and 53TB of storage, scalable to 500TB in 13TB increments.

The Vmax 450 can accommodate one to four V-Bricks, while the 850 scales to eight.

Depending on the configuration, Vmax All Flash can deliver millions of IOPS with less than 500 microsecond latency and up to 150GBps of bandwidth.

"Vmax All Flash is designed for the modern data centre – delivering monster IOPS and consistent sub-millisecond latency while offering world-class six-nines availability," said EMC president of core technologies Guy Churchward.

Optional features include SRDF software for remote replication, controller-based encryption, ViPR software defined storage, CloudArray software to link to cloud storage, eNAS file storage capability, and Unisphere 360 for the consolidated management of up to 200 Vmax arrays.

EMC is following the lead of some of its younger competitors such as Nimble (which revealed its all-flash array last week) by introducing flat-price maintenance (avoiding the traditional hikes in maintenance fees after the first few years) and by offering lifetime flash endurance protection.

The second product announced today by EMC is the DSSD D5 rack-scale flash storage.

Previously, the highest performing flash storage was delivered on PCIe cards, but they had the major disadvantage of being accessible only by the server in which they were installed.

DSSD D5 gets around this by providing ultra-dense, high-performance, highly available and very low latency shared flash storage for up to 48 servers. PCIe Gen3 connections are used to obtain a combination of latency as low as 100 microseconds, throughput up to 100GBps, and up to 10 million IOPS from a 5U system containing up to 100TB of usable storage.

Applications are said to include Hadoop-based systems, high performance databases and data warehouses, and others that involve complex, real-time processing.

According to EMC, DSSD D5 can provide one-third the latency, occupy one-fifth the rack space, and provide a 68% lower total cost of ownership than Oracle's highest published performance system.

"EMC acquired DSSD in 2014 because we recognised its game-changing innovation," said EMC emerging technologies division president CJ Desai.

"Today, we're bringing a hardened, tested platform to market, changing the face of flash as we know it and rounding out EMC's already-robust flash portfolio.

"DSSD is a blazing fast, high-performance solution and customers are in for a magnitude improvement in what's now possible for demanding applications in this new era of Rack-Scale Flash."

Even before these new products were announced, EMC held a 39% share of the all-flash market which was more than the next three competitors combined, according to IDC figures.

"Today's enterprise customer wants to enable their business with modern data centers that deliver agility, efficiency and speed," said EMC president of products and marketing Jeremy Burton.

"We're expanding upon EMC's primary storage strengths and all-flash leadership, built with XtremIO.

"With the introduction of VMAX All Flash and DSSD D5 there is virtually no data centre use case we're unable to address from traditional high-end enterprise workloads, to use cases that people haven't even dreamt about in the data centre of tomorrow."

EMC predicts that only flash storage will be used for production applications by 2020, with disk being relegated to bulk and archive storage.

That's consistent with EMC Information Infrastructure CEO David Goulden's statement at EMC World 2015 that we won't see an all-flash data centre "any time soon."


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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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