EMC: Racing Toward The Debut Of VNX2 Storage Array

EMC is preparing to roll out the second generation of its VNX storage array, the VNX2, which will feature new multicore processing technology and a rewrite of its software for increased performance, according to channel sources.

The VNX2 also will focus on 2.5-inch form-factor drives as a way to reduce the storage footprint in the data center while making it easier to integrate more SSDs to increase performance.

The VNX2 is slated to be launched Sept. 4 in Milan, Italy, said sources, who added that they expect EMC to use Formula 1 racing as a theme for the event; the Formula 1 Gran Premio D'Italia 2013 begins Sept. 6.

[Related: EMC Product Road Map: Updates On XtremIO, VNX 2 And ViPR ]

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EMC, Hopkinton, Mass., began hinting about the upcoming release of the VNX2 in May at EMC World, and in July provided the most recent update during its second fiscal quarter conference call.

EMC did not respond to requests for further information on the VNX2.

Jamie Shepard, regional vice president of Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and longtime EMC partner, said the VNX2 promises a significant step up in performance, virtualization, and features over the VNX.

"I can't wait," Shepard said. "We've got a customer in the health-care space with meaty requirements. We had quoted them a VNX. But we'll be requoting them using VNX2."

On the hardware side, EMC is introducing new multicore processing, or MCx, technology to increase performance. A slide at an EMC World session showed MCx reaching more than 1 million IOPs, nearly five times the IOPs of the current VNX.

MCx also features dynamic core utilization, leveling the various tasks of the VNX, including RAID, I/O, cache, data services, and management across the multiple processor codes rather than running each task in its own core to increase performance.

NEXT: MCx And The New EMC VNX2 Software

MCx's Dynamic Core Utilization (from EMC World)
Click for full-sized view.

To take advantage of the MCx technology, EMC also is making a significant update to its VNX operating system, which until now has been a combination of EMC's legacy FLARE SAN operating system and DART NAS operating system, united behind a common GUI.

With VNX2, the software is a single operating system that takes advantage of the MCx technology and ensures better utilization of flash storage in the array, Lumenate's Shepard said.

"EMC's new multicore processor technology is huge," he said. "This is a complete rewrite of the VNX. All the processors are going to be utilized for performance. The intelligence behind the cores will be available for all the applications."

"EMC has been doing multicore processing with software intelligence in the VNX," Shepard said.

"But with FLARE, the software might flood one or two cores while the others remain idle," he said. "Now the VNX will have more cores and software that can manage them all. VNX now already offers high read speeds. But with the change, it will be better able to handle high write-intensive applications."

While the original VNX was panned by the competition, including by archrival NetApp, for keeping the legacy FLARE and DART operating system, that has not hurt EMC's VNX sales, Shepard said.

"EMC could have reworked the operating system from day one but wanted to see what the industry wanted," he said. "If something's not broke, it doesn't need fixing. Did it hurt EMC? No. It has continued to grow faster than NetApp did."

Another solution provider who has been following the VNX2 development and who requested anonymity, said that while the VNX2 promises "transformative" performance and capabilities over the VNX, the impacts from competitive storage arrays and a move toward scale-out storage remain to be seen.

"Will the scale-up approach of VNX be king?" the solution provider said. "Or will scale-out take over? The market is going to buy both. The market wants to see price vs. performance."

The solution provider also noted that a lot of flash storage array vendors are coming to market and gunning for EMC's business.

NEXT: Getting Ready For The Arrival Of The VNX2

MCx's Dynamic Core Utilization
Click for full-sized view.

"Everyone is doing slide comparisons vs. EMC because EMC is the market leader," the solution provider said. "Only time will tell if the rest of the market will make a dent in EMC's business. Nimble Storage, Violin Memory, Pure Storage, and Simplivity, as well as the classic Hewlett-Packard, Dell, NetApp and Hitachi -- they are all going after EMC."

Shepard said Lumenate is looking forward to promoting the VNX2 and plans to continue with EMC's racing theme.

"On Sept. 14 or Sept. 16, we're doing an event at F1 Boston featuring indoor Go Kart racing," he said. "Customers will wear the uniform and helmet, and race in teams."