One of the challenges facing almost every IT organization is storage system sprawl, a problem that is increasing. When we visit a data center there is often a storage system for each workload; one for virtual desktops, one for virtual servers, one for files and one for machine data. Less than a year after releasing VMAX3 EMC has added a significant piece of technology, FAST.X, which provides the ability to dynamically move data between tiers of storage, but also, move it between disparate storage systems.
VMAX3 – The Data Services Engine
When VMAX3 was released last year, EMC positioned it as a data services engine. EMC made a purposeful move to separate the VMAX software from the underlying hardware, allowing them to focus on being more innovative through software. The goal of VMAX3 is to cross the chasm between traditional data center storage systems that need rock solid reliability and cloud storage systems that need agility and flexibility.
The result is a solution that offers potentially the most complete set of data services available in a storage system and one whose services are well vetted, being used for over a decade in real data centers. At the same time VMAX3 delivers an ease of use aspect that allows the application of services via objectives.
FAST.X – A Data Services Community
At EMC World the VMAX team announced FAST.X which allows external systems to be managed as tiers within the VMAX data services engine. This moves the data services engine concept further and creates a data services community that is accepting of new and different storage systems. For example VMAX can now apply and manage quality of services capabilities to an XtremIO array and an Elastic Cloud Storage system automatically moving data between the two systems as needed.
Driving the data center to a two-tier model, one flash-based the other high-capacity storage based, has been a design goal of ours for over a year now. We believe current IT staffing can handle two tiers of storage and that these two types will meet the needs of all applications within that data center. Some of the missing ingredients are how to decide where to initially place data and how to move data between those tiers. While a manual approach is practical, automation is better and allows for greater scale and staff efficiency, especially if that automation is service level driven.
VMAX3 with FAST.X is a viable candidate to offer the community of data services and data movement to enable this two tier model. It can also play a key role in helping data centers leverage their current storage assets as they gradually move to a two tier design.