Today, as part of the build-up to the flurry of announcements that will come at EMC World, EMC announced a new addition to their entry-level storage line. The new addition has all of the ease-of-use features that VNXe customers are used to (and enhances them), and adds a number of enterprise-level features that were previously unavailable in the VNXe line.
The new model, the VNXe3200, replaces the VNXe3150. Below, I walk through the features of the 3200 that (in my opinion) really stand out.
The details of the definition of “unified storage” vary depending on which storage vendor you’re talking to. The only common denominator I’ve noticed is that a given vendor’s particular definition of “unified” just happens to match the product that they’re selling.
Ask other folks what unified storage means to them and you’ll hear things like:
- Serves both file and block storage in a single array
- Supports multiple physical connectivity options
- Supports multiple storage protocols
- All array functions are managed through a single interface
The older VNXe models didn’t meet all of these criteria, but the model 3200 does.
You might be used to EMC serving files from a “data mover” and block storage from a “storage processor”. The VNXe3200 serves both file and block from the same storage controller.
In the past, VNXe has been known as an IP-only array. The VNXe3200 adds options for FC connectivity.
VNXe3200 supports CIFS, SMB, NFS, iSCSI, and FC.
So far, so good, but it’s in its internal workings where VNXe3200 shines as truly unified storage. On many storage arrays, a storage pool can be used for either block or file volumes, but you can’t mix the two. VNXe3200 lets you create block and file volumes from the same storage pool. On other arrays, local data protection is handled by different software depending on whether you’re dealing with snapshots of block-based LUNs or file systems (for example, EMC’s VNX uses SnapView for block LUNs and SnapSure for file systems). VNXe3200 uses the same software to take snapshots — regardless of whether the volume is block- or file-base.
(Yes, this part is something I always want to know details on for any storage array.)
VNXe3200 comes with all sorts of built-in VMware support. In addition to providing full support for my personal favorite suite of storage-related VMware features, VAAI, it also includes support for VASA.
Things don’t stop there. Like most storage arrays, VNXe3200 only serves storage to hosts it’s explicitly been given permission to serve storage to. This generally involves “registering” the host on the array in some fashion, often through a manual process.
The VNXe3200 allow administrators to auto-discover not only ESXi hosts, but also the VMs running as guests on those hosts, and auto-add them to the lists of hosts it will serve storage to. This is not only a huge time-saver, but greatly simplifies VMware deployments.
Enterprise Storage Features
You might remember how EMC recently optimized the latest generation of VNX to be truly multicore. VNXe3200 is the first model in the VNXe family to have the same multi-core optimization. This allows for greater efficiency and the ability to handle simultaneous connections from more hosts.
For space-efficiency, VNXe3200 offers options for thin provisioning and for file-based deduplication.
VNXe3200 also offers support for EMC’s FAST Cache (using SSDs in the array is additional cache) and EMC’s FAST (Fully-Automated Storage Tiering).
For those who complained that VNXe management was too simple and didn’t offer enough advanced provisioning options, VNXe3200 allows administrators to explicitly specify the RAID level they want to use.
Most exciting, VNXe3200 can be used with the new virtual appliance version of EMC’s VPLEX storage virtualization and data protection platform, VPLEX/VE. While today, VPLEX/VE supports only VNXe3200 iSCSI volumes and ESXi, it’s still a huge leap forward. The standard VPLEX offering only supports FC-connected arrays. The combination of VNXe3200 and VPLEX/VE brings enterprise-level features like active/active data centers and VMware stretch clusters available to customers who aren’t using FC SAN. This makes features like VMware HA and FT possible even in the event an entire data center becomes unavailable.
VNXe32oo takes the easy support of the VNXe family even further. From the support screen in Unisphere, administrators can:
- Watch “How To” videos and other training resources
- Have easy access to the EMC community support forums
- Search the EMC online support resources
- Initiate a live chat with an EMC service rep
- Order software, disk drives, and other field-replaceable parts
The VNXe3200 will be GA on 5 May (which is, coincidentally, the first day of EMC World 2104).
VPLEX/VE support for VNXe3200 will not be available at GA, but is due to be available before the end of June.