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EMC Creates Whopping Big Cloud Storage

EMC also has the first product derived from this new architecture, the world's biggest high-end storage array ever

EMC Tuesday rolled out a spanking new built-from-the-ground-up high-end storage architecture for the cloud and its federated kin, the virtual data center, a k a the internal cloud, widgetry that's been a couple of years in development.

Dubbed the Virtual Matrix Architecture, it promises storage that scale to hundreds of thousand of terabytes and tens of million of IOPS supporting hundreds of thousands of virtual machines in a single federated storage infrastructure.

It is supposed to be the first storage architecture to combine the performance and efficiency of scale-up with the cost-effective flexibility of scale-out. But probably the important thing to remember is that EMC is the parent company of VMware, the virtualization leader, and help explain why it bought it.

According to EMC, the mojo incorporates automation to simplify storage management, scales on-demand and uses 20% less energy per terabyte than your usual high-end storage system.

EMC also has the first product derived from this new architecture, the world's biggest high-end storage array ever.

Max'd out it's talking 2 petabytes of usable protected capacity, backed by 2,400 drives, 128 processor cores and 1TB of global memory.

Code named Tigon, a cross between a tiger and a lion - apparently for its roar - it has been formally christened the Symmetrix V-Max and is built with multi-core processors and purely off-the-shelf widgetry unlike any previous EMC high-end storage.

EMC said the commodity parts should lower power costs and improve IOPS per dollar.

The mix-and-match device can also be built strictly from high-performance flash as well as traditional Fibre Channel and high-capacity SATA drives.

Figure second-generation 200GB and 400GB flash drives, 450GB Fibre Channel and 1TB SATA disks.

The V-Max Engine at the heart of the new system employs multiple redundant quad-core 2.3GHz Xeons with up to 128GB of memory and up to 16 host and 16 drive channel connections.

Currently eight V-Max Engines can be strung together and share resources, scaling to 1,024GB of global memory and twice the front-end and back-end connections of the company's now dethroned top-end DMX-4.

Since they are building blocks, EMC foresees hundreds of V-Max Engines with tens of thousand of disk drives beings hooked together.

It says the ability to interconnect and share resource and linearly scale out is a prerequisite for supporting dynamically changing virtual machines and applications.

Its mantra will be "start small and grow without limits."

The newfangled V-Max reportedly offers three times the performance, twice the connectivity and three times the usable capacity of the DMX-4 and less energy in the bargain.

And it's supposed to be 10% cheaper. It starts at $250,000 but then it also starts smaller than the DMX-4.

EMC says the V-Max automates storage provisioning, reducing its time and complexity by 95%. And since it integrates with a bunch of VMware features evidently both storage and server resources can be provisioned on-demand, with centralized management, reporting and control.

EMC also announced something called FAST automation, short for Fully Automated Storage Tiering, which won't be available until later this year. It moves data from flash to SATA drives based on policies, predicative models and real-time access patterns.

EMC figures FAST will nudge flash adoption. It figures 20% of data centers will be flash-based.

EMC's also got a zero-data-loss SRDF Extended Distance Protection for the V-Max - said to be ideal for virtual server environments - that's supposed to reduce the cost of multi-site replication by up to 60%. It's been integrate with VMware Site Recovery Manager.

EMC says it has 30-odd beta sites, described as some of the world's largest data centers including Microsoft's adCenter. And since Cisco CEO John Chambers spoke well of the thing one would imagine that Cisco foresees using it with its newfangled Unified Computing Systems, its entry into the server world.

EMC's got a migration tool that supposed to move users on to V-Max 50% faster than normal.

Sales of EMC's high-end Symmetric storage, usually good for 20% of its revenues, dropped to 9% in its fourth quarter because of the economy. 

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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