EMC’s MegaLaunch: Storage Specifics (Includes Video)

It might seem incongruous to be talking ‘storage specifics’ when discussing EMC – after all, isn’t it a storage company? Well, I mean this in two ways: Firstly, as we move to a more integrated world, so EMC is spending plenty of energy on discussing things other than storage per se; that’s all well and good, but it’s not the focus of this blog. Second, even storage now gets broader by the day; again, that’s all great but this blog is all about delving a little deeper into the ‘vanilla’ storage announcements at EMC’s MegaLaunch earlier this month. One final point here – ‘vanilla’ is neither a pejorative nor a comment on what EMC delivered, it is merely a statement that here I’m focused on the basics. So, to get a summary of the key points for the three main product areas (in this case VMAX, Isilon, and XtremIO) I pointed my video camera at three of EMC’s finest. Take a look at the video and then my comments follow.

So, is the stated excitement of these fine EMCers deserved? In the main presentation EMC used a quote from Arthur C Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Much as it was an excuse to get a magician on stage, it also begs the question as to whether EMC is engaged in “sleight of NAND” or simply marketing illusions? Certainly the TwinStrata acquisition was like pulling a –certainly necessary and logical - rabbit out of a hat, but other than that the announcements mirrored the Dr. Who Tardis (that also featured in the event); that is, there’s a lot more inside than meets the eye. This was a set of announcements with substance as well as style. So for instance, XtremIO not only added compression, encryption and – at last – a very respectable snapping capability, but threw down a sales gauntlet by extending its media warranty, fixing maintenance pricing and offering a three year money-back guarantee. Isilon extended its potential for business impact by adding loads of flash (there was some motoring analogy but I think they missed out on a potential “NAScar” reference?!), and laid down its coming/contemporary relevance with its “Data Lake.” The Data Lake is a lot more concrete than concept, and certainly ties a visual destination to a road that many users want to travel. And VMAX? The new ability to drive this storage system based upon workload need and SLA commitment is unlikely to garner opposition, while the imminent addition of the TwinStrata cloud gateway will only firm EMC’s desire to be seen as part of the future rather than clinging to the old approaches [by the way, I can help EMC on naming – you add Twinstrat-er to FAST and make it FASTER?!].

Now, before a hundred competitors point out that EMC is not first in certain functions, guarantees, gauntlets or even bodies of water….that’s missing the point. EMC’s “magic” is not about trickery but is about dexterity – keeping many plates spinning, as it were. It can’t succeed if everyone moves everything to the cloud or non-EMC commodity hardware….so we have Isilon data lakes, TwinStrata gateways, Elastic Cloud Storage, and ViPR management to preclude that. Moreover, it won’t succeed if new vendors in the traditional data center grab too much share, so it has beefed-up VMAX, VNX, and XtremIO with both function attributes and financial attraction (pricing/guarantees) to make leaving the EMC fold a much harder choice than it would otherwise be. And, intriguingly, in all these ways, the name of this recent launch - “Redefine Possible” – applies at least as much to what EMC does, and must do, as to how its customers view its offerings. It is business pragmatism and technical acumen that nonetheless benefits EMC and its customers alike.

Video Transcript

Mark: It's probably too far away for you to read this, but you may recognize the scenes behind me. We're in London. It's now, by the time I post this, it'll be a couple of weeks since EMC's MegaLaunch: Redefine the Possible. What I did while I was here, there was I took the opportunity to talk with Josh, Sam, Barry about some of the key storage product announcements. There was a lot more covered at the event, but the key storage product announcements from their perspective and also the implications that those have for customers.

Barry: Today was a great day here in London, big announcement around the next generation of VMAX. It's going to be hard to summarize it. Of course, we came out with next generation VMAX 100K, 200K, 400K, powerful, trusted, agile, dynamic virtual matrix, the ability to leverage all those cores, move them around based upon application, hypermax operating system, the ability to embed data services within the VMAX platform. As part of that, we actually made a great new acquisition, we acquired TwinStrata today. We're going to embed their cloud access gateway. We're going to put that inside of the VMAX to allow customers to move the data, not only through FAST within the VMAX platform, but now, off prem, onto a public cloud. Lastly, we talked a lot about agility today, the ability to simplify the customer's workload, simplify the provisioning aspect.

Now, customers through business level objectives can provision storage through a simple click to be able to provision platinum storage, gold-level storage, silver-level storage, and then allow the system to automatically manage to those work levels. Move data around if the application is not meeting what we need it to meet, we'll go ahead an apply more resources to that application. If a customer says, "I'm not meeting the right service level or I want to upgrade my service level," we can very simply move them from a silver to a gold to a diamond, first checking and making sure we have those resources, and then going ahead and applying those new resources. Lots of different announcements we made today, all around the VMAX platform, very exciting technology.

Sam: A lot of exciting news from the EMC Isilon launch today. It's all about data lakes for us, so the ability to build a large scale, scale out data lake is the strategic focus of Isilon, and really what our customers are turning for us to develop for them and deliver for them. Some of the key differentiation of the news today was the fact that we've expanded the access methods. We've enhanced SMB for multichannel for high performance. We've got new versions of HDFS support. I'm very excited about the open stacks with object support which is really a net new way to store more information in the Isilon data lake. We've also bundled together our data lake with Pivotal, with VCE, and with XtremeIO to meet this scale-out VDI needs. Taking the data link, giving our customers the opportunity to consolidate more and more workloads, take advantage of a single file system, single volume and the efficiencies it provides, and now packaging that together with the federation with Pivotal, VCE as well as XtremeIO for flash. It's a great opportunity for customers to adopt new Isilon technology.

Josh: We have some big announcements with XtremeIO today. We talked about new inline data services, including data at rest encryption, agile writable snapshots, and the big one is inline compression which allows us to get up to four times more capacity out of the existing XtremeIO hardware. All of these new features are available on the existing XtremeIO arrays that are out there in the field as well as new ones that are going to begin shipping. This is all stuff that's available for free. There are no licensing charges for any of the new features. It's a really exciting time for ExtremeIO, tremendous new capabilities in the array, great business programs around it, and a lot of new integrations into the EMC ecosystem to make XtremeIO easier to deploy with things like multipath I/O, replication solutions, Vblocks, VSPEX solutions. It's really across the board, XtremeIO is just penetrating into EMC wherever it goes.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure