An introduction to EMC Unity – new mid-range unified storage platform

EMC has been on a journey for a number of years to truly unify the Block and File capabilities of their market leading mid-range VNX platform – that journey is now complete with the introduction of Unity.

The overall goal of Unity is to be:

  • Simple – even easier to deploy and manage than the current best
  • Modern – take advantage of the performance and price points of the latest generation flash drives
  • Flexible – more feature rich than any other mid-range platform
  • Affordable – with prices starting at under £10K

So what’s new in Unity?

  • Simple to deploy with new setup wizard and simple to manage with a new HTML5 User Interface
  • Designed for all-flash, with All Flash and Hybrid configurations
    • Support for eMLC FAST Cache drives and 3D TLC drives
    • Intel E5-2600 processors with more cores and memory
    • 12Gb SAS backend
    • Linux-based (SUSE)
  • Unified block and file (from a single controller)
    • Native File and Block Virtual Volumes support
    • One storage pool can source Block LUNs/Consistency Groups, File Systems and Virtual Volumes
    • Uses the same Snapshot and Asynchronous Replication technology (both Redirect-on-Write) for both File and Block
    • Faster non-disruptive failovers with in-memory log replay and mount-on access
  • Inline compression (scheduled to be available Q3 2016)
  • 64-bit file system that scales to 64TB per file system with support for file system shrinking, VMDK cloning, and pointer-based snapshots
  • Replication between virtual storage appliance and purpose-built systems
  • All-inclusive software with no separate OE per TB model
  • CloudIQ SaaS management solution
    • Provides intelligent analytics about performance, capacity, and configuration for health-based reporting and remediation

Performance
The range consists of the 300, 400, 500 and 600 models, each  available in All-Flash and Hybrid configurations – what I think is particularly compelling is that performance scales from just over 100,000 IOPS to just under 300,000 IOPS (Thin LUN, 100% Random, 8KB, 80/20 Read/Write).

Most mid-range arrays today are typically peaking at well under 50K IOPS, this means that the very affordable Unity 300 platform will easily meet the performance needs of the vast majority of non-enterprise organisations.

Summary
The VNX2 was a decent platform that out sold pretty much everything else in the mid-market, but it is fair to say that there were areas that were no longer state-of-the-art (i.e. unification of Block and File, simplicity and performance). With Unity, EMC has carried forward the many strengths of the VNX2 and at the same time has been listening to the market to make sure any weaknesses have also been addressed – looks to me that EMC has a product that is going to really shake-up the mid-market and put the start-ups under a lot of pressure.

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Mark Burgess has worked in IT since 1984, starting as a programmer on DEC VAX systems, then moving into PC software development using Clipper and FoxPro. From here he moved into network administration using Novell NetWare, which kicked-off his interest in storage. In 1999 he co-founded SNS, a consultancy firm initially focused on Novell technologies, but overtime Virtualisation and Storage. Mark writes a popular blog and is a frequent contributor to Twitter and other popular Virtualisation and Storage blog sites.
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About Mark Burgess

Mark Burgess has worked in IT since 1984, starting as a programmer on DEC VAX systems, then moving into PC software development using Clipper and FoxPro. From here he moved into network administration using Novell NetWare, which kicked-off his interest in storage. In 1999 he co-founded SNS, a consultancy firm initially focused on Novell technologies, but overtime Virtualisation and Storage. Mark writes a popular blog and is a frequent contributor to Twitter and other popular Virtualisation and Storage blog sites.

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