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Home > Gestalt IT, Storage, Technology > Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems coming!!

Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems coming!!


Enhancements to EMC Symmetrix V-Max system is possibly around the corner (FY09 Q4).

FAST (Fully Automated Storage Tiering) is due this quarter and will be one of the most awaited software release in the enterprise storage space by EMC.

Bundled together with FAST, possibly a new microcode version the enables FAST (its associated features) and other expected enhancements.

Though this will be a major software release and functionality upgrade, I don’t think this would qualify as a 2nd generation EMC Symmetrix V-Max system.

But fully expect EMC to release its FAST v2 and V-Max G2 somewhere around Mid year 2010.


Here are a few new features to possibly expect on the EMC Symmetrix V-Max Systems this quarter.

1. Introduction of FAST v1, which should allow automated data movement within a single Symmetrix V-Max system. Here are some features of FAST as discussed on GestaltIT and by Barry Burke (TSA) on his blog.

2. FAST v1 data movement should possibly be policy driven around factors like time (how old is the data), SLA (promised SLA’s), Tier (from Tier 0 to Tier 1 to Tier 2) and possibly I/O or IOPS based.

3. FAST v1 should allow automated policy based data movement or prompt a user for manual intervention for data movement.

4. Do not expect FAST v1 to come for free, it will possibly be licensed based on the total number of TB’s in the storage subsystem.

5. Expect some integration between the IONIX platform and FAST v1 and possibly some very tight integration with future releases of FAST and IONIX.

6. Expect FAST and IONIX to integrate very tightly with Atmos through API’s and policies. We should expect to see this with FAST v2 and not with FAST v1.

7. So when does EMC retire Symmetrix Optimizer, with FAST v1 probably not, with FAST v2 probably yes.

8. 2TB SATA II drives will be introduced (According to a Keynote from Joe Tucci in NYC), though Joe Tucci didn’t mention what platforms the 2TB SATA II drives will be available on, it seems the V-Max upgrade would be the most logical platform.

9. The 2TB SATA II drive upgrade should make the V-Max 4 PB total storage (2400 drives x 2TB), possibly the single largest storage subsystem at an enterprise level.

10. RapidIO speed upgrade from 2.5 Gbps to 4 Gbps (interconnects between the engines) upgraded either through MBIE (new processors) and / or through microcode upgrades. Edit 10/15/2009 – 12:50 PM: Not sure currently the technology that EMC uses for RapidIO, since Parallel RapidIO supports 250 Mhz to 1Ghz clocking speeds while Serial RapidIO supports 1.25Ghz to 3Ghz.

11. Drive connect speed upgrade from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps

12. FC and FICON (Host Connects) port speeds upgrade from 4 Gbps to 8 Gbps

13. Interconnect between two separate Symmetrix V-Max Systems (8 Engines each per system) expanding into possibly 16 or 32 (max) engines. The more I think about this concept, the more it makes me feel that there are no added benefits of this architecture, rather it will add more complexities with data management and higher latency. We may not see anything related to interconnects in this upgrade, but remember how the V-Max was initially marketed with having hundreds of engines and millions of IOPS, the only way to achieve that vision is through interconnects. The longer the distance, the more latency with cache and I/O. If Interconnets end up making in this release, limitation on the distance between two Symmetrix V-Max system bays would be around 100 feet.

14. To the point above, another way of possibly connecting these systems could merely be federation through external policy based engines. Ed Saipetch and myself have speculated that concept on GestaltIT.

15. With the use of larger drive size, possibly expect a cache upgrade. Currently the Symmetrix V-Max supports 1TB total cache (512GB usable), which may get upgraded to 2TB total cache (1024 GB usable).

16. New possible microcode version 5875 that will help bring features like FAST, SATA II drives and additional cache into the Symmetrix V-Max.

17. Processors: 4 x Quad Core Intel processors on V-Max engines may not get an upgrade in this release, it should possibly be with FAST v2 as a midlife enhancement next year.

18. Further enhancements related to FCoE support.

19. Upgrade of iSCSI interface on Symmetrix V-Max engines from 1GB to 10GB (is now available with the Clariion CX4 platforms).

20. Really do not expect this to happen, but imagine RapidIO interconnects change to FCoE. Really not sure what made EMC to go with RapidIO instead of Infiniband 40 Gbps (which most of the storage industry folks think is dead) or FCoE with Engine interconnects, but if the engineers at EMC thought of RapidIO as a means to connect the V-Max engines, there has to be a reason behind it. Edit 10/15/2009 12:50 PM: Enginuity more or less doesn’t care about the underlying switching technology, making a switch from RapidIO to FCoE or Infiniband can be accomplished without a lot of pains. Though for customers already invested into RapidIO technology (with existing V-Max systems), it might be offline time to change the underlying fabric, which in most cases is unacceptable.

21. Virtual Provisioning on Virtual LUNs which is currently not supported with the existing generation of Microcode on V-Max systems.

22. Atmos currently is running as a beta release and we should expect a market release this Quarter. Should we expect to see an integration between V-Max and Atmos. I am not sure of any integration today.

23. A very interesting feature to have in the EMC Symmetrix V-Max would be system partitioning, where you can run half the V-Max engines at a certain Microcode level with a certain set of features and other half can be treated as a completely separate system with its own identity (almost like a Mainframe environment). Shouldn’t this be a feature of a modular storage array.

24. Symmetrix Management Console (SMC) and Vmware integration (like VMware aware Navisphere and Navisphere aware VMware). There is already quite a bit of support related to VMware in SMC for provisioning and allocation.

25. Also a much tighter integration between IONIX, FAST, SMC, Navisphere and Atmos may after all be the secret sauce, which would enable workflow, dataflow and importantly automation. Though do not expect this integration now, something to look forward for the next year.

Summary

Though I am still a bit confused on where FAST will physically sit.

FAST v1 can merely be a feature integrated within the Microcode, configurable & driven through policy within the Symmetrix Management Console.

FAST v2 (Sometime Mid 2010) will support in-box and out-of-box (eg: Symmetrix to Clariion to Celerra to Centera) data movement through policy engine.

Ed Saipetch and myself have speculated on GestaltIT on how that may work. Though after some thoughts, I do believe a policy engine can merely be a VM or a vAPP sitting outside the physical storage system in the Storage environment.

To promote the sales of the EMC Symmetrix V-Max systems, Barry Burke in his blog post talks about Open Replicator, Open Migrator and SRDF / DM (Data mobility) are now available at no cost for customers purchasing a new EMC Symmetrix V-Max system, these are some of the incentives that EMC is offering and further promoting the sales of its latest generation Symmetrix technology.

It remains to be seen the path of success FAST will carve for Symmetrix V-Max systems.