VMAX Made Easy

We concluded our full day of briefings at EMC by meeting with the VMAX product team. The VMAX product family represents EMC’s top of the line, enterprise class storage solution. While there are some similarities between the midrange VNX and the VMAX, the VMAX is generally intended for mission critical environments that have a need for very high performance and even higher reliability with no tolerance for application or system failure.

The VMAX is available in a 10K, 20K and 40K models. There is also a Cloud Edition model that is designed specifically for service providers and enterprises that are building out cloud infrastructure. The 10K and 20K are positioned for enabling enterprise data center environments to consolidate storage for virtualized environments while the highest end 40K model is designed to support large, multi-tenant, federated hybrid cloud infrastructure.

IT storage practitioners familiar with the EMC Symmetrix family may equate this product line with complex deployments which require highly skilled personnel to implement. To lower the barrier to entry, EMC came to market with a near turn-key, out of the box ready solution with the 10K edition. EMC claims that the 10K can be installed in 4 hours or less since most of the complex configuration work is done before it lands in the customer data center.

By making the 10K much easier to deploy, EMC has seen a steady uptick in their VMAX adoption rate, with 1/3rd of their sales coming from clients that have never purchased an EMC solution before. In fact, some VMAX clients are electing to deploy multiple 10Ks, in lieu of deploying a larger unit, because they find it an effective way to segment and manage their data while enjoying the benefits of a lower cost, rapid implementation.

EMC has delivered some noteworthy capabilities and enhancements to the 10K product line in 2013. First, the 10K fits into a 24 inch rack; providing greater storage density in overcrowded data center environments. Secondly, storage administrators can create virtual machine (VM) quality of service (QoS) policies to ensure that VM’s don’t siphon away IOPS from other VM’s in the environment. This helps to insulate critical business applications from the “noisy neighbor” condition that can occur in dense, multi-tenant VM environments.

Another important feature delivered this past calendar year on the 10K is a “Cloud Edition” model which provides pre-configured templates for assigning various service levels to physical or virtualized applications. Each service level has a pre-defined RPO and RTO and can be customized to include additional data security policies like “encryption on” for data at rest. The Cloud Edition also supports self-service to enable multi-tenant environments to provision resources as they are needed.

Finally, in addition to doubling the bandwidth from 8Gb/s to 16Gb/s, the 10K can dynamically promote hot data, through the EMC Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) technology, in data packets as granular as 8MB. This results in faster application response time, and more efficient use of the flash resources within the array. While the importance of tiering granularity is beyond the scope of this briefing note, it is something that IT Planners should be paying careful attention to.


Many data center environments have a need to populate their most mission critical business data on to high performing and highly resilient storage infrastructure but lack the in-house expertise to deploy and manage such solutions. Furthermore, many organizations need solutions which increase their time-to-market speed.

EMC’s VMAX offering is enabling organizations of all sizes to rapidly deploy high-end storage technology, customized for virtualized and cloud infrastructure, that only used to be attainable for the most sophisticated IT shops. As importantly, the management features embedded within the VMAX solutions are making the day-to-day care and feeding of these environments increasingly easier.

As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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Posted in Briefing Note

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