Today, EMC announced the Cloud Edition of their signature Symmetrix VMAX storage platform. Timed to coincide with the VMware Partner exchange conference, there have been rumors about this announcement for a while, but now we’ve got some details.
Release of a product of this nature is another indicator of an overall change that’s been occurring at EMC. Back in the day, if you wanted to add a new volume to your Symmetrix array, you called EMC Support and they sent an engineer on-site to edit your bin file… Those days are gone. EMC’s focus has shifted to user-friendly, easy-to-use management interfaces that no longer require advanced degrees in storage in order to run. For example, RAID levels — a former staple of EMC conversations — are rarely even mentioned any more.
So, what is it that makes the Cloud Edition different than a regular VMAX? Here’s what I know:
VMAX Cloud Edition
In addition to a VMAX array itself, customers purchasing the Cloud Edition will also receive two management servers configured in a highly-available cluster. These servers connect to the VMAX via 8Gb Fibre Channel HBAs.
These management servers provide the brains that differentiate the Cloud Edition from the rest of the VMAX family. The servers run a multi-tenant self-service portal with predefined service levels. This makes the VMAX Cloud Edition ideal for folks who want to provide enterprise-class Storage as a Service (SaaS) to their internal users from their own private cloud, or for service providers who want to give their customers a truly-robust high-performance offering.
Service Level Definitions
The VMAX Cloud Edition has five predefined service levels that make provisioning new storage easy. Those levels are:
- Bronze – intended for backup, archive, and file storage
- Silver – an attempt to balance price and performance, intended for data sets or virtualized applications
- Gold – high-performance for write-heavy I/O, database transaction logs, etc.
- Platinum – “very high” performance, intended for mission-critical applications or OLTP databases
- Diamond – “ultra high” performance, intended for high-performance computing (HPC) or other latency-sensitive applications
VMAX Cloud Edition Features
The VMAX Cloud Edition offers the following features:
- Self-Service Portal – In addition to providing an easy way to provision the service levels described above, the portal allows for easy management and monitoring, as well as chargeback or “showback” reporting.
- Data at Rest Encryption – In addition to helping to secure the multi-tenancy, this data encryption helps those customers who need to meet regulatory compliance needs or have concerns about data exposure if drives are removed or replace.
- RESTful APIs – By providing Representational State Transfer API access, EMC is providing customers and service providers with an easy way to create their own web-based front-end to the self-service portal, allowing them to add their own branding, billing info, and management policies.
- Federation – The materials I’ve seen don’t spend a lot of time on this particular point, so I wanted to draw attention to it. The portal allows management of up to ten VMAX Cloud Edition arrays as one giant SaaS entity. That means you can get up to 10PB of usable space…
As part of the approach to making storage easier, EMC is offering six different “Starter Kits” for the VMAX Cloud Edition. Any of the Starter Kits can be grown over time to the full 10-array 10PB capacity configuration. The available starting configurations are:
- 5,000 IOPS and 50TB usable capacity
- 10,000 IOPS and 50TB usable capacity
- 15,000 IOPS and 100TB usable capacity
- 25,000 IOPS and 100TB usable capacity
- 30,000 IOPS and 200TB usable capacity
- 50,000 IOPS and 200TB usable capacity
Notice the focus on the actual information you care about, not drive counts — another indicator of the change at EMC and across the storage industry.
The VMAX Cloud Edition goes GA on 7 March.
I think this product opens up all sorts of great use-case possibilities. What use cases do you foresee? Let me know in the comments!