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'Fess up, storage admins: Working with EMC's VMAX made you feel like a wizard

VMAX3 could be end of an era

Storagebod Could VMAX3 possibly be the last incarnation of the Symmetrix that ships?

As an enterprise array, it feels done; there is little left to do, and arguably this has been the case for some time, although the missing feature had always been ease of use and simplicity.

The little foibles such as the Rule of 17, Hypers, Metas, and BCVs vs Clones all added to the mystique and complexity and led to many storage admins believing that we were some kind of mythical priesthood.

The latest version of VMAX, and the rebrand of the Enginuity into HyperMax, removes much of this and it finally feels like a modern array ... as easy to configure and run as any array from its competitors.

And with this ease of use, it feels like the VMAX is done as an Enterprise Array, and there's little more to add. As a block array, it is feature complete. OK, the new NAS functionality will need building upon, but apart from that, nothing.

So this leaves EMC with VNX and VMAX — two products which are very close in features and functionality; one that is cheap and one that is still expensive. So VMAX’s only key differentiator is cost ... a Stellar Artois of the storage world.

I can’t help but feel that VNX should have a relatively short future but perhaps EMC will continue to gouge the market with the eye-watering costs that VMAX still attracts. A few years ago I thought the Clariion team might win out over the Symm team, now I tend to believe that eventually the Symm come out on top.

But as it stands, VMAX3 is the best enterprise array that EMC has shipped, and arguably should be the last it ships. The next VMAX version should just be software running on either your hardware or perhaps a common commodity platform that EMC ships with the option of running the storage personality of choice. And at that point, it will become increasingly hard to justify the extra costs that the 'Enterprise' array attracts.

This model is radically different to the way EMC sells today ... so moving it into a group with the BURA folks makes sense; these folks are used to selling software and understand that is a different model (well, some of them do).

EMC continues to try to re-shape itself and is desperately trying to change its image. I can see a lot of pain for it over the next few years especially as it moves out of the Tucci era.

Could EMC fail? Absolutely, but we're in a world where it is conceivable that any of the big IT vendors could fail in the next five years. I don’t think I remember a time when they all looked so vulnerable and as their traditional products move to a state of ‘doneness’ they're all thrashing around looking for the next thing.

And hopefully they won’t get away with simply rebranding the old as new ... although they will continue to try.®

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