EMC announces VMAX all-flash & VMAX mainframe storage

In Dell EMC, VMAX 850/850F/850FX, VMAX3, VMAX3 450/450F/450FX by AdministratorLeave a Comment

Today EMC® released a new, all flash version of their VMAX® storage system and announced the availability of an all new, VMAX3® for mainframe storage.

New VMAX All Flash Storage

EMC has been a leader in the deployment of flash storage since 2008, with world’s first deployment of enterprise SSD storage on Symmetrix. Since then, there have been many additional VMAX enhancements to better support flash storage developments, some of which include, in 2008 write folding in cache, in 2010 FAST® (automated tiering), in 2014 Multi-core/pooled cores/FE-BE profiles, and this year, advanced flash wear analytics. EMC’s latest VMAX edition puts all that history and experience to work in a new all flash storage system, using 3D TLC NAND SSDs, the first major enterprise vendor to do so.

EMC has another storage line in the all flash space, XtremIO. But it doesn’t quite reach the extreme resilience, advanced storage functionality, world class DR and mixed workload capabilities in VMAX HYPERMAX OS storage systems.

New VMAX All Flash Storage Product Family

The new VMAX All Flash storage comes in 2 hardware levels the VMAX 450 and the VMAX 850, with 1 to 4 engines and up to 960 SSDs or 1 to 8 engines and up to 1920 SSDs, respectively. The hardware will come packaged in V-Bricks (1 dual director VMAX engine and 53TB of SSD) and Flash Packs (13TB SSD rack expansion), providing a scale or scale-out option to VMAX All Flash configurations. EMC says performance for the new VMAX All Flash storage systems is 4M IOPS at 0.5ms latency, with up to 150GB/sec bandwidth. EMC is also moving to a more bundled offering with its VMAX hardware and software, will make the all flash VMAX available in two sets of offerings:

  • Base VMAX 450F and 850F which includes base functionality that includes, thin provisioning, QoS/Host IO limits, Embedded Unisphere®, Solutions Enabler, SMI-S, VVOLs, SnapVX™, and AppSync®; and
  • Extended VMAX 450FX and 850FX, which focuses on data security, mirroring, and advanced management that includes all the above plus D@RE, SRDF®/S, SRDF/A and 3-/4-site SRDF, SRDF/Metro, Unisphere 360, eNAS, ViPR Suite (SRM & controller) and CloudArray software.

There was one other software feature, ProtectPoint™, which could be added to either VMAX all flash offering. They also announced two more future capabilities, inline compression and non-disruptive mobility (migration from older VMAX storage), both slated for 2H 2016 and to be available on VMAX 450 and 850 systems. Some of the above (extended SRDF) functionality will require a separate license at the hardware level. Moreover, the VMAX All Flash storage systems will also be available with special EMC VBLOCK converged system configurations.

New VMAX Mainframe Storage

EMC has been a leader in mainframe storage for quite awhile now, and they are now coming out with VMAX3 versions for mainframe attach. It turns out many mainframe customers also need access to open storage and VMAX Mainframe systems can be configured with mainframe FICON, (open) FC or iSCSI host interfaces on a host interface card basis. EMC VMAX Mainframe  is expected to be  available on 3/23.

All current VMAX 100K, 200K and 400K storage systems will support mainframe attach. For instance, the VMAX 400K has 384 cores, 16TB global memory, and will support up to 256 FICON ports. Moreover, VMAX HYPERMAX OS functionality like QoS and other advanced storage functionality are now available to z Systems users. Also VMAX All Flash will be available for mainframes in late March.

EMC is also offering zDP, a new mainframe data protection feature used to schedule SnapVXs of volume data, which can then be used to restore customer data prior to a point of corruption. With zDP, mainframe users can keep 100s of snaps of mainframe volume data around and generate a new snap every 10 minutes, if they want.

VMAX Mainframe also supports PAV Optimizer, a combined host OS and storage software offering that enhances IBM Parallel Access Volumes by dividing large block IOs (e.g. 9-track reads) into multiple smaller reads (say 3-3 track reads) and parcels this out to multiple VMAX directors, to parallelize the IO and complete it faster.


EMC has had all flash arrays since the acquisition of XtremIO and even before that with VNX all flash, however this is the first time that they have introduced a new VMAX product line focused exclusively on all flash storage. Now just about every major vendor has an all flash storage system for their enterprise customers.

Frankly, I am more intrigued by EMC’s use of 3D TLC NAND. I had predicted a low probability on my RayOnStorage.com blog that any major vendor would deploy 3D TLC SSDs for enterprise storage during 2016 and sigh, now I am wrong. Samsung had relegated the 3D TLC SSDs for use in read intensive workloads, but apparently VMAX-HYPERMAX has enough smarts to make them work for enterprise workloads. The advantages in density and price of 3D TLC SSDs make them very appealing. Other vendors will certainly see these same benefits and will work to catch up to VMAX here.

[This storage announcement dispatch was originally sent out to our newsletter subscribers in February of 2016.  If you would like to receive this information via email please consider signing up for our free monthly newsletter (see subscription request, above right) and we will send our current issue along with download instructions for this and other reports. Dispatches are posted to our website at least a quarter or more after they are sent to our subscribers. Also we have recently updated (May 2019) our SAN Storage Buying Guide so if you are interested in purchasing block or primary storage, please checkout our Buying Guide available for sale on our website. ]  

Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & System consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.

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