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Two flashy VMAX bridesmaids bare ankles at EMC's DSSD groom

Faster flash goodness inside the VMAX data services house

+Comment EMC has two new all-flash VMAX products as a result of re-engineering aspects of the VMAX design to lower latency.

The company now has four all-flash array product families; XtremIO for relatively standard all-flash workloads; the DSSD D5 for extreme high-performance; VMAX for high performance and huge capacity inside the VMAX data management services environment.

Lastly, there is all-flash VNX for simpler dual-controller flash array performance under the VNX data services umbrella.

There are two VMAX All Flash (VMAX-AF*) products;

  • VMAX 450 with between one and four engines
  • VMAX 850 with between one and eight engines

EMC claims VMAX-AF has a total cost of ownership less than legacy enterprise disk-based arrays and is for mission-critical enterprise applications.

It scales up to a huge 4PB of capacity and supports block, file and mainframe access protocols with traditional VMAX reliability. It also scales up to about four million IOPS, meaning an individual engine delivers around 500,000 IOPS.

This is less than half the 10 million IOPS power of the DSSD D5 array.

There is a V-Brick building block design. A V-Brick contains one VMAX engine and 53TB of usable capacity that can be scaled up to 500TB in 13TB increments. (For reference the D5 array has 144TB of capacity, 100TB usable.)

The system uses Samsung PM863 series 2.5-inch, 32-layer, 3D TLC V-NAND 3.84TB SSDs. These have a 1 drive write per day rating.

It can scale by adding V-Bricks up to a maximum of eight, meaning 4PB capacity.

VMAX-AF delivers an unquantified number of millions of IOPS and sustains less than 500 microseconds of latency (DSSD D5: 100 microsecond latency) and supports up to 150GB/sec of bandwidth (D5: 100GB/sec). This means VMAX is not far behind the DSSD array in terms of speed and has almost 28 times more capacity plus 50 per cent more bandwidth. A 3-V-Brick 450 would offer 150TB compared to the D5’s 144TB. That would be an interesting price/performance comparison.

VMAX-AF has a Write Folding technology to improve flash durability.

It will, according to Jeremy Burton, EMC II's president of products and marketing, probably not get deduplication but will get software compression in the future.

Simpler software packaging

Naturally VMAX-AF products inherit all of the VMAX data management services, which the DSSD D5 array does not. That makes VMAX-AF an easier system to adopt by an existing VMAX shop.

There is simpler software procurement through an appliance-like scheme. A base-level F pack has:

  • Thin Provisioning
  • Quality of Service
  • Embedded Unisphere
  • VVols support and SnapVX technology
  • AppSync data protection software for Copy Data Management (CDM)

An FX pack extends this with:

  • SRDF software for remote replication, enabling six “nines” availability
  • Controller-based Data at Rest Encryption D@RE)
  • ViPR Suite (both Controller and SRM) for automated provisioning, management, and monitoring
  • CloudArray software to link non-critical data between VMAX and cloud storage services
  • eNAS technology for file storage
  • EMC Unisphere 360 for management of up to 200 VMAX arrays in a single data centre

However, these packages don’t include ProtectPoint software. This data protection product can be added to a VMAX-AF system to perform direct backup between VMAX and Data Domain arrays without the need for any other backup software.

The XtremIO Xpect More Program has been extended to include VMAX-AF. It provides simplified planning, deployment and management. There is a lifetime flat-price maintenance model and lifetime flash endurance protection for the arrays.

VMAX-AF is incorporated in Vblock and VxBlock 740 converged systems from VCE, EMC’s Converged Platforms Division.


EMC thinks that, by 2020, all storage used for production applications will be flash-based; traditional disk will primarily be used for bulk and archive storage only.

So EMC has firmly nailed an all-flash flag to its data centre mast, relegating disk drives to bulk data storage and not performance data storage. It says no no single flash array can support all the possible use cases. Eat your heart out Pure Storage.

As EMC’s massive sales and market machine spins its own and its channel’s market messaging into full flood, we face a tsunami of flash array messaging. Prepare to be inundated.

The two new all-flash VMAX systems are available now. These VMAX-AF systems are orderable as a VCE Technology Extension to existing Vblock and VxBlock Systems and VCE Vscale Fabric implementations, ®

* VMAX-AF is our acronym, not EMC’s.


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