EMC looks to virtual datacentres with new array

EMC is labelling the redesign of its Symmetrix storage array to support heavily virtualised data centres, its most important announcement since the first Symmetrix box was introduced nineteen years ago.

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The insertion of flash into EMC arrays is nothing new, but analysts have criticised the company because its systems force storage administrators to manually move data from tier to tier. EMC announced that it will address that shortcoming with FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering), a new software tool that "will automate the movement of data across multiple storage tiers based upon business policies, predictive models and real-time access patterns." This type of software, already offered by vendors such as Compellent, helps prevent the wasteful practice of storing rarely-accessed data on expensive flash drives.

FAST will be available in the fourth quarter of 2009 for both V-Max and DMX-4.

The V-Max will not replace the DMX-4, nor will it make EMC's new Atmos cloud storage software obsolete, the company says. Atmos is designed to manage petabytes of information across tens or hundreds of geographic locations, using x86 servers with high-capacity, low-cost SATA drives.

Atmos is mainly for unstructured or semi-structured data needed to run social networking applications and websites that provide content like photos and video. Symmetrix arrays, Wambach says, are for mission-critical applications including ERP, transactional systems, email, databases and electronic trading.

EMC has optimised V-Max for VMware's hypervisor and Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualisation software, but not for Citrix's XenServer. "We see right now that the majority of customer demand is for VMware and Microsoft," Wambach says.

Although EMC stressed that V-Max will not replace the DMX-4, it said the new product triples the performance of the DMX-4 while offering twice the connectivity, and three times the usable capacity. V-Max is also more power efficient, EMC says.

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