May 04 2016

EMC World 2016: VMAX Embraces All-Flash Storage, Unity Meets SMB Needs

A new line of storage solutions for mid-sized organizations gives companies enterprise-grade excellence at affordable prices.

The march toward flash storage has been ongoing for several years now, but EMC is keen on making 2016 the finish line. Earlier this year, the company declared that 2016 would be the year of “all-flash.”

This move comes as flash storage continues to become more affordable and companies become more comfortable with moving a variety of workloads into all-flash environments.

“Not only the technology, but from an economics point of view we’re now at the crossover point, where the system costs, which include the drives and the compression technologies, are now less than spinning disk,” said Fidelma Russo, SVP and GM, Enterprise and Mainframe Solutions, at the 2016 EMC World conference in Las Vegas.

In February, EMC announced an all-flash version of its popular VMAX storage array offering, called VMAX All Flash. Russo was on hand on the second day of EMC World to underscore the value and the rationale for businesses to move forward with all-flash storage arrays like VMAX All Flash.

“Getting rid of mechanical drives within the VMAX and moving to a VMAX all-flash will increase your overall reliability by a factor of two,” she said.

Reliability, speed and scale are the core reasons why flash storage makes more sense for modern IT shops. But flash storage has some disadvantages that have made some IT professionals cling to spinning disk.

“When you talk about flash, it sounds so magical. And it is. What happens is every time you write to a flash drive, it dies a little every time,” said Russo. “You have to erase what’s on that drive and then you have to reprogram it, and there are only so many of those cycles that a flash drive can take.”

To get around this limitation, EMC has engineered the VMAX All Flash to reduce the number of writes so that the drives last longer.

“By reducing the backend writes, we increase the endurance of the flash drive within the system, allowing us to make sure that this will last a lifetime in your application and really start to become a building block in your modern data center,” said Russo.

EMC's Unity Offers Mid-Sized Businesses Flexibility and Value

The modernization of IT is impacting organizations of all sizes. But often times, some of the more advanced IT solutions are relegated to larger enterprises.

EMC has brought the efficiency and innovation of enterprise-grade storage and scaled it down in price and size for small- and medium-sized businesses.

“Unity is a family of simplified and affordable storage,” said Jeff Boudreau, EMC SVP of Midrange Storage. “It can be available in all-flash, hyperconverged, converged and software-defined.”

All-flash configurations start at under $18,000, while EMC’s hybrid-flash array configurations start at under $10,000, he said.

Why Unity Makes Sense for SMBs

When compared against previous EMC offerings, Unity outpaces its predecessors handily, as Boudreau demonstrated onstage when he compared a VNX storage array to the new Unity line during his portion of the Day 2 keynote.

“This is a very popular, industry leading VNX 5800 hybrid array. On the other side, you’ll see the new Unity platform,” he said. “This is a hybrid Unity platform and this is an apples-to-apples comparison. What are you gonna get? Three times the performance, at a third of the space, at half the cost.”

But Boudreau didn’t just make statements; he made sure to show off the new Unity line. First, he walked the audience through a demo of the software interface, which boasts an HTML5-based graphical user interface — a welcome relief for many IT professionals who dreaded previous EMC GUIs that were run on Java.

And once the software demo wrapped, Boudreau and EMC President of Products and Marketing Jeremy Burton went on a virtual tour of the new Unity storage line that featured them shrinking down to bite-size as they toured the guts of the storage devices.

It was like something out of the Ant-Man movie. Or perhaps it’s reminiscent of that episode of The Magic School Bus when Ms. Frizzle and her class shrunk down to miniature size for a field trip inside the human body.

While IT professionals at small- and medium-sized businesses might not have access to such awe-inspiring virtual tech to troubleshoot their IT, the Unity line of storage solutions will allow them to keep up and flourish in the modern IT landscape alongside their larger enterprise counterparts.

“As [SMBs] look to modernize and simplify their data centers, we want to make sure that we’re providing them the right infrastructure to do that, to meet whatever need they have,” said Boudreau.

Ricky Ribeiro

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