EMC Unveils New Storage Architecture

By Sharon Linsenbach

EMC has introduced a high-end line of Symmetrix storage products based on a building block design that can start small and scale up to support the largest virtual data center infrastructures, aiming to do for storage what VMware has done for enterprise servers.

EMC’s new Symmetrix V-Max and V-Max SE storage arrays are based on a Virtual Matrix Architecture that EMC said can scale up to hundreds of thousands of terabytes of storage, and is capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of virtual machines.

V-Max and V-Max SE are designed for large enterprise data centers and server virtualization deployments in which storage workloads must adapt to changing demand and must be moved between various storage platforms. The V-Max product line also includes Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST), the ability to automatically tier data based on real-time user access requirements, its life cycle, regulatory compliance and disaster recovery needs, EMC says.

The Virtual Matrix Architecture is made up of blocks of V-Max engines, which contain all the necessary disk and I/O ports along with multiple quad-core Intel processors, up to 128GB of memory and EMC's Engenuity storage operating system.

Traditional storage arrays, on the other hand, typically require customers to source and manage separate components such as motherboards and host bus adapters, according to EMC statements.

To scale up, customers simply add in another V-Max engine with its associated flash, Fibre Channel or serial ATA storage. Each Symmetrix frame can fit up to eight V-Max engines, for a total 1 terabyte of memory and twice the front-end and back-end connections supported by EMC's current high-end DMX-4 systems, according to EMC.

An entry-level V-Max SE costs up to 10 percent less than a DMX-4, but offers significantly more performance thanks to the use of quad-core Intel processors and other changes such as enhancements to Engenuity, EMC’s storage operating system.

The Symmetrix V-Max product will co-exist with the current Direct Matrix Architecture (DMX-4) Symmetrix, and there are no end-of-life plans for the DMX-4 in the near future, EMC says.

V-Max, EMC says, will offer a high degree of self-management, enabling solution providers and storage administrators to manage much more storage capacity than before, as well as cut down on customers’ energy costs. EMC also says the solution will integrate seamlessly with virtual server and data center management policies customers already have in place.

EMC notes that while competitors such as Hitachi Data Systems and IBM have continued to use their USP and DS8000 high-end storage array architectures, it has raised the bar with its latest two storage architectures, the DMX-4 and now V-Max. It says this demonstrates the storage giant’s commitment to innovation and its attention to solution providers and their customers' high-end storage needs.

EMC Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci called V-Max "the biggest breakthrough in new high-end storage design in nearly two decades."

This article was originally published on 2009-04-14