Yesterday, EMC announced Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST), their much hyped and much anticipated storage feature enabling the automated moving of data between tiers of storage on a policy basis. However the most notable missing feature in the EMC announcement was the lack of support for legacy DMX-3 and DMX-4 platforms. This to me sends a message loud and clear that despite continuing to sell it, the DMX3/4 legacy monolithic hardware is dead. If that’s the case, why bother buying from EMC any more?
Discounting EMC in the storage array market may seem like a naive and perhaps foolish comment to make. After all, recent IDC numbers show EMC top of the pile at nearly a quarter of all external storage arrays sold, depending on which figure you choose to use. However, take a moment to look at the EMC briefing pages on FAST (you can find them here). There you will see Intel co-branded with EMC, highlighting many previous messages that monolithic architectures are dead and commodity modular boxes are the way of the future. We’ve seen that this year already with the release of Atmos.
To my knowledge, FAST is the first “innovation” of the new V-Max product line, but it isn’t unique. In fact, I don’t think any features of V-Max are unique; the architecture is found in many other products. There’s a whole raft of mid-range storage arrays from IBM (XIV), 3Par, Compellent, Pillar, Dell/Equallogic and HP (Lefthand) with the last two being acquisitions of successful companies. I expect in the next 12 months we’ll see enterprise modular releases from Hitachi/HP and a revamped EVA. Most of the products mentioned here have been designed from scratch to remove the legacy encumberances of the past that products such as V-Max still retain.
So what’s my point? Well, simply this; EMC have legitimised the enterprise modular architecture characterised by V-Max. This accepts that the future is commodity-based hardware with differentiation in software. However, EMC are no longer the leaders in this field and are having to play catch up.
There’s never been a better time to look wider than the Big 4 (EMC/Hitachi/HP/IBM) and see if the features you need can be found elsewhere.