EMC Announces VPLEX Metro Express Edition (plus VAAI support)

[UPDATE: I’ve edited the post to remove one of the new features that had been mentioned in early pre-announcement briefings.  The features listed now match what’s actually been released.]

Today, EMC announced updates to their VPLEX family of storage virtualization devices, including a new way to purchase it — the VPLEX Metro Express Edition.

What’s a VPLEX?

If you’re not familiar with it, the EMC VPLEX creates a layer of abstraction between physical hosts and storage arrays — it virtualizes the storage.  Doing this provides datacenters with all kinds of flexible options they wouldn’t otherwise have:

  • Non-disruptive migration of data from one array to another
  • Mirroring data between dissimilar storage arrays
  • Creating storage volumes that span multiple arrays

That’s just within a single datacenter — the configuration EMC calls VPLEX Local.  Add another cluster of VPLEX directors at another datacenter, and you can use the VPLEX’s AccessAnywhere cache coherency features to do all of that between datacenters at different locations — at synchronous replication distances with VPLEX Metro, and at asynchronous replication distances with VPLEX Geo.

For me personally, the most interesting thing about VPLEX is the ability to use the VPLEX Metro configuration to create a VMware vSphere Metro Stretch Cluster — a single ESXi cluster spanning two physically separate datacenters.  Virtual machines can be moved from one datacenter to another via vMotion with no interruption of service at all.

What Did EMC Announce?

EMC has announced a updated version of the VPLEX operating system — GeoSynchrony 5.2 — that adds some long-awaited features.  These features include:

  • Non-disruptive volume expansion
  • Support for larger block sizes (adjustable from 128KB to 1MB)
  • Management by EMC Unisphere
  • Support for VMware vSphere Storage API for Array Integration (VAAI) primitives

(That last is one I’ve been particularly interested in since VPLEX first came out…)

What’s the Express Edition?

One of the new features included in GeoSynchrony 5.2 is enhanced integration with EMC RecoverPoint.  VPLEX Metro Express Edition takes advantage of this in order to provide customers with a new way to purchase VPLEX — one that combines the data mobility offered by VPLEX with the continuous data protection offered by RecoverPoint.

VPLEX Metro Express Edition is a pre-packaged solution containing the hardware and software licenses for both VPLEX Metro and RecoverPoint Continuous Data Protection (CDP) — VPLEX protection and mobility for up to 40TB of data and RecoverPoint CDP for up to 40TB as well.

This combination takes things beyond the mere disaster recovery offered by other replication solutions, and offers true continuous operation and disaster avoidance, PLUS data rollback to any point in time.

I predict it won’t be long before this starts being referred to as “software-defined data protection”…

Buzzwords aside, this solution is another example of how advances in virtualization are taking us to whole new places.

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