EMC VMAXe: Between High-End VNX and Low-End VMAX

In Symmetrix family, more successful storage system line in WW industry
This is a Press Release edited by on 2011.07.14

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  • EMC is expanding the global market reach of its high-end storage technologies with the new Symmetrix VMAXe system - enabling more IT organizations both domestically and in growing international markets to accelerate their journey to the cloud.
  • New smaller footprint design based on proven scale-out Symmetrix VMAX enterprise storage architecture features key software pre-loaded and configures in minutes.
  • Built-in open, local and remote replication support for EMC and non-EMC systems enables efficient data protection and easy migrations.
  • EMC high-end storage technologies easier to acquire through more channels and in more international markets.

EMC Corporation introduced the new EMC Symmetrix VMAXe storage system, storage technology designed for virtualized cloud and mission critical IT environments. The VMAXe system enables more IT organizations, both domestically and in expanding markets such as India, China, Eastern Europe and others, to accelerate their journey to cloud computing.


The Symmetrix VMAXe has the same Virtual Matrix Architecture and innovative software as larger Symmetrix VMAX systems used in the world's largest data centers. Designed for organizations with limited storage expertise and IT resources, it features a new hardware design for a smaller footprint, and built-in software for fast installation, configuration and management.

The rapid adoption of cloud computing around the world is creating exponential data growth that many organizations are struggling to manage with limited staff, space and budgets. The Symmetrix VMAXe addresses these challenges with sophisticated levels of storage automation, simplified management and provisioning, scalable performance, local and remote replication and the ability to simultaneously support thousands of virtual machines from VMware and others.

Symmetrix VMAXe Highlights:

  • New Hardware Design: Symmetrix VMAXe combines the Virtual Matrix Architecture, which delivers data center-class availability, with a new Intel multi-core processor-based Engine design, dense packaging and single-phase power. It can scale up to 4 Engines and from tens to up to 960 of the latest disk and flash drives. It supports leading high-end software capabilities, including FAST VP (fully automated storage tiering with virtual pools) and EMC TimeFinder local replication software.
  • Provisions in Minutes: Symmetrix VMAXe can be configured in minutes with built-in EMC Virtual Provisioning that simplifies management and improves utilization by enabling storage to be allocated as needed.
  • Replication: The Symmetrix VMAXe system's built-in integration with EMC RecoverPoint replication software, enables CDP and continuous local and remote replication (CLR and CRR) between a VMAXe and other EMC and non-EMC storage arrays for disaster recovery, migrations and any-point-in-time recovery of data.
  • Simplified Management: Symmetrix VMAXe provides software to simplify the management of virtual computing environments. This includes EMC Symmetrix Management Console and Performance Analyzer with an easy-to- navigate web GUI and real-time dashboard views and EMC PowerPath SE automated path failover software for availability as well as several others.
  • Available Worldwide: EMC is making high end storage capabilities available through more channels around the world than ever before. The Symmetrix VMAXe can be purchased from EMC Velocity Channel partners or direct from EMC.

"Cloud computing and virtualization are transforming businesses and creating new opportunities for Wipro throughout India, Middle East and Africa. The Symmetrix VMAXe enables us to now quickly and easily deploy and configure the most advanced virtual Data Center storage capabilities in the world to support our enterprise customers," said Vikas Srivastava, Vice President & Business Unit Head, Infrastructure Technology Solutions, Wipro Infotech.

"The adoption of cloud computing is happening at a rapid pace throughout China and this is driving large data growth. The Symmetrix VMAXe is designed specifically to efficiently manage this information with the most sophisticated and proven storage software available. Customers can customize the system to meet their needs and have it grow and scale as their data  and  IT requirements do," said Lin Yang, CEO, Executive Director, Digital China Holdings Limited.

"COMback is one of the largest providers of disaster recovery services in Germany and offers a wide range of services to customers of all sizes who put their trust in us. Symmetrix VMAXe is a system we can put our trust in as an important part of our infrastructure. Its built-in RecoverPoint integration makes it an ideal solution for our environment, enabling customers to continuously protect their data by replicating it to our highly secure facility no matter what storage they are using at their facilities," said Achim Issmer, CEO, COMback GmbH.

"As one of the largest electric power companies in the U.S., we use advanced technology to help customers manage their energy consumption. This creates tremendous amounts of data. The Symmetrix VMAXe provides us the flexibility to extend high-end capabilities into our lower-tier service level offerings as we look to expand our virtualization and private cloud infrastructure," said Hermie Cloete, Systems Architect, Duke Energy.

"With every customer engagement, we are working to help our customers in a wide variety of industries improve their businesses by removing cost, complexity and barriers to change across their IT infrastructures. The Symmetrix VMAXe is a storage platform that can help us achieve those objectives with customers of all sizes and in markets throughout Europe," said Matthew Yeager, Practice Leader, Data Storage & Protection, Computacenter.

"The Symmetrix VMAXe is a compelling expansion of EMC's portfolio and meets the requirements of a new breed of customer, especially those in new and emerging markets around the world whose storage environment got bigger than they ever thought it would. EMC is meeting changing market conditions and requirements by making high-end storage capabilities, previously only available to larger data centers, available to everyone," said Terri McClure, Senior Analyst, ESG.

"The success and customer adoption of the Symmetrix VMAX platform and FAST technology over the past year has been phenomenal and is reflected in large market share gains. During that time, we heard from many customers, especially those in international markets, that need scalable performance, automated tiering and other high-end capabilities at a level that was right for them. The Symmetrix VMAXe was purpose-built to meet the space, cost and management needs of these customers, many of them service providers, who have large, data intensive virtual environments and who can now easily realize the benefits of the most powerful, trusted and smart storage technology available," said Brian Gallagher, President, Enterprise Storage Division, EMC.

"Brocade and EMC are working together to deliver cloud infrastructure solutions for our thousands of mutual customers that help transform data centers into highly efficient and agile environments. The features and capabilities of the Symmetrix VMAXe, combined with Brocade's leading Ethernet and Fibre Channel fabrics, create a comprehensive solution that is highly scalable, high-performance and operationally simplistic. Characteristics that are needed to support today's highly-virtualized data center environments," said Doug Ingraham, vice president, product management, Data Center Products Group, Brocade.

"Cisco and EMC are working together to deliver trusted, smart and efficient datacenter solutions that lower the costs of cloud computing. The scalability of the VMAXe, complements Cisco's Unified Fabric and network services available across Cisco's intelligence core networking and Unified Computing solutions," said David Lawler, vice president for Server, Access and Virtualization Technology Group at Cisco.

"Unisys specializes in helping clients worldwide build secure, transaction-intensive computing environments, increase data center efficiency and modernize their enterprise applications. Building on a long and extensive relationship with EMC and its technology, we  plan to add the new Symmetrix VMAXe system to our storage portfolio. We believe that this new storage platform will give us a powerful option in developing and implementing data center solutions for Unisys clients," said Rod Sapp, vice president, Servers and Storage, Unisys.

"The cloud-based computing models enabled by VCE Vblock infrastructure platforms require increasing levels of automation, virtual provisioning and flexibility to meet a range of demanding workloads. The Symmetrix VMAXe is a storage platform that uses a trusted architecture and innovative software that we look forward to working with as part of our converged infrastructure solutions," said Todd Pavone, EVP, Product Development, VCE.

"The latest technologies from both VMware and EMC are designed to make virtual and cloud infrastructure simpler to manage. The Symmetrix VMAXe combined with the new VMware vSphere 5 will help our customers reduce complexity, improve efficiency and increase business agility," said Hatem Naguib, vice president, alliances, VMware.

Our Comments

We cannot remember a storage subsystem more successful than Symmetrix (now VMAX) in the worldwide history of the storage industry, not in term of units shipped, but in revenues.

This series was initiated at EMC by a team led by visionary Moshe Yanai - known as Mr. Symmetrix, who joined EMC in 1987 - and his team of engineers with the a first product, the Symmetrix 4200, introduced in 1990, that began to beat IBM for mainframes' storage. It was based on three main ideas: the use of new lower priced 5.25-inch HDDs - and not much bigger IBM 3390 drives -, a big DRAM cache (at this time 4Mb) named Integrated Cache Disk Array, and RAID-1 (mirroring). Total raw capacity of this IBM-compatible model was a mere 24GB. There are around a total 450 patents filed on the Symmetrix.

The Generations of Symmetrix

  • First Generation (4200): 1990
  • Second Generation: 1992
  • Symmetrix 3.0: 1994
  • Symmetrix 4.0: 1996
  • Symmetrix 4.8: 1998
  • Symmetrix 5.0: 2000
  • Symmetrix 5.5: 2001
  • Symmetrix DMX (Generation 6.0): 2003
  • Symmetrix DMX-2 (Generation 6.5): 2004
  • Symmetrix DMX-3 (Generation 7.0): 2005
  • Symmetrix DMX-4 (Generation 7.5): 2007
  • Symmetrix VMAX (Generation 8.0): 2009
  • Symmetrix VMAXe (Generation 9.0): 2011
Yanai left - or was fired - by EMC in 2001 because he disagreed on the pricey acquisition of Data General (at the origin of CLARiiON, then VNX) for $1.1 billion in 1999, as he wanted the company to design its own open storage system with his engineers, according to several sources. He is now probably one of the healthiest man in the storage industry. He quits EMC with a huge amount of money and some people told us that he got personally a percentage on each Symmetrix sold. The same Yanai was also part owner of Israeli de-dupe start-up Diligent, sold to IBM in 2008 for a reported $200 million. He then joined IBM after selling another company he co-founded in Israel, XIV, for $300 million in 2008. Before leaving Big Blue, he was at the origin of another Israeli start-up, Axxana, being now one of its board's director. And the main - and apparently only - partner of this firm, in innovative zero loss disaster recovery, is ... EMC.

Symmetrix was at the origin of the fast growing revenues for EMC and continues to be one of its flagship hardware products. In the company's most recent fiscal 1Q11, revenues of Symmetrix increased 25% compared with the year-ago quarter, putting a lot of pressure on IBM and HDS, its two competitors in storage for mainframes or high-end open systems.

At a time, they were resold by Dell and NEC.

New smaller (19U rack) Symmetrix VMAXe is positioned to fill the gap between low-end VMAX and high-end VNX with as starting price of $200,000 with one engine and 24 drives, compared to millions of dollars for VMAX.

A fully-configures 960-drive unit comprised four system bays and two storage bays. Each integrated engine and system bay house 150 drives and each bay houses 180 drives. A four-engine provides up to 384GB (96GB per engine) of cache and up to 64 FC or 32 1Gb/10Gb iSCSI or 10Gb FCoE ports.

It uses a quad-core engine while the VMAX uses eight ones, with maximum configuration of 960 FC (15,000rpm 450GB or 10,000rpm 600GB), SATA (2TB) or SSD (200GB) drives (2,400 for VMAX) for up to 1.3PB (2PB for VMAX) in RAID-1, -5 or -6.

Behind this introduction, there is also the idea to compete with some products like IBM XIV, HP 3par and other large enterprise SANs.