EMC debuts all-SSD and high-bandwidth versions of VNX arrays

Storage vendors says it will stop selling Clariion arrays in January, but maintain support for five years

EMC today unveiled two upgrades to its VNX midrange array line, including an all solid-state drive (SSD) machine and a high-bandwidth model.

EMC made the announcement at its customer forum at Gillette Stadium.

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Eric Herzog, EMC vice president of product management, said that while the VNX array had optional SSDs previously, the new VNX5500-F model is preconfigured and contains more solid-state drive slots.

The VNX line combines the block-level storage area network (SAN) capabilities of EMC's midrange Clariion array with its network-attached storage (NAS) Celerra controller.

EMC president Pat Gelsinger said EMC will end-of-life the Clariion line as of January 2012. The company will continue to support the product with services for five years after that.

The new VNX5500-F utilizes 2.5-inch, single-level cell (SLC) NAND flash drives to 10 times the performance of the hard-drive-based VNX arrays.

According to Herzog, the all-flash array offers 80 percent lower cost per transaction because it would otherwise take a vast number of high-performance hard drives to achieve the same performance.

EMC's traditional VNX arrays -- models VNX 5500 and VNX7500 -- now come in a high-bandwidth option.

A dual-controller VNX7500 array in a single-rack configuration now offers up to 14GBps throughput. On the VNX5500, the high-bandwidth option delivers up to 6.5 GBps performance.

Both models are also available with 3TB SAS drives, which offer up to 1.6PB of capacity in a rack. There is also a 60-slot drive tray for VNX line that comes in a 4U (7-inch high) configuration.

EMC user Patrick Williams, a systems specialist at North Carolina State University, said the ability to "squeeze 1.6PB of capacity into just one floor tile" in a data center is impressive.

"As with any organization with a budget and limited space, we're always searching for data center solutions that are simple, powerful, efficient -- and help manage our costs," he said in a statement.

The high-throughput VNX models are aimed at Microsoft and Oracle data warehousing applications as well as high-end video production, and seismic exploration for oil and gas.

The high-bandwidth option utilizes additional I/O interconnect modules to boost the number of serial SCSI (SAS) paths between the disk drive trays and the RAID controller. Utilizing the SAS modules, an array can achieve up to 50 percent more bandwidth over previous VNX array models.

The new VNX5500-F all-flash array comes in a default configuration with 25 2.5-inch SSDs, but additional 25-slot trays can be added to increase capacity. Previously, the VNX's drive trays had only 15 slots.

The EMC VNX5500-F is designed for five-9's availability, a requirement for mission critical Microsoft and Oracle OLTP workloads, Herzog said.

"With this, if you want to upgrade box to include traditional SAS [hard] drivers, you with all flash and add shelves of SAS," Herzog said.

By utilizing EMC Fully Automated Storage Tiering software, highly accessed data can be automatically kept on SSDs, while less frequently used data will be stored on slower, but higher-capacity SAS hard drives, he added.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian, or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed. His email address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

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This story, "EMC debuts all-SSD and high-bandwidth versions of VNX arrays" was originally published by Computerworld.

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