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 Continue reading

Should NetApp rename FAS and ONTAP?

We live in a world heavily focused on marketing – great products with poor marketing will fail whereas okay products with great marketing will succeed. NetApp has introduced considerable innovation into the FAS platform over the last 5 years – including the Clustered version of ONTAP, substantial Flash optimisations and Cloud ONTAP for AWS (with Azure to follow). This is all cutting edge stuff that few if any competitors can match (see Is there another storage platform as feature rich as NetApp FAS? for more thoughts). The challenge for NetApp is that the storage industry has changed over this period with many start-up all-flash/hybrid-flash array and hyper-converged platform vendors entering the market. These all give the perception (mostly marketing of course) of being Continue reading

Is there another storage platform as feature rich as NetApp FAS?

I think it is fair to say that NetApp FAS running Clustered Data ONTAP is a very feature rich platform – the move to the clustered version of ONTAP has brought many next-generation features including Scale-out and Non-disruptive Operations. As a benchmark let’s compare FAS to EMC’s solutions – I fully appreciate that EMC has taken a best of breed approach, but my feeling is that for most non-enterprise customers this is not a sustainable strategy – customers want simplicity and ease of use, and you are not going to get that by deploying four different storage platforms to meet your needs. I have chosen EMC because they are the overall market share leader and they have the broadest set Continue reading

EMC, HDS & NetApp Storage Portfolio Videos now available on YouTube

As well as being one of the most expensive, your storage infrastructure is likely to be the single most critical element of your physical and virtualised IT environment. While CPU, RAM and Network resources can directly affect the performance of some of your systems, poorly sized or badly integrated storage, will damage the performance of ALL your systems and may render servers and services unusable. So it’s always worth taking the time to understand the storage that’s available and digging a little deeper to ensure it’s going to deliver great performance and good value for money. To start the ball rolling, we’ve provided three short videos that give a quick introduction to the storage offerings available from the three major storage Continue reading

Managing Education … in a Flash!

I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of education institutions over the past fourteen years. In that time, through the progress of Virtual Learning Environments, Interactive Smart Boards and BYOD there has always been one piece of the IT puzzle in academia that has required extra attention and resources. I speak of course about the Management Information System. Be it Unit-e, SIMS or EBS running on Microsoft SQL or Oracle, it is the core information system that tracks the life-cycle of the learner. The MIS also provides a framework for managing curriculum portfolios and feeds assessment information and outcomes into data warehouses. And, as you are no doubt aware, accurate and timely returns are crucial to securing the correct levels Continue reading

What are the pros and cons of Software-Defined Storage?

Software-defined storage (SDS) is becoming a topic of interest to many organisations, but like all new technologies there are pros and cons compared to the existing solutions. So for me the benefits of SDS are: Bring your own hardware – take advantage of commodity prices Built-in “IT Deflation” – keep up with the increased demand for storage Hardware independent – lives on beyond the life of the hardware Flexibility to scale – as much or as little as required Low ongoing costs – perpetual license followed by annual maintenance Gain new features – just by upgrading the software Simplified management – compute and storage managed together What do we mean by “IT Deflation”? Essentially year on year you can get more Continue reading

Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp All-Flash and Hybrid block arrays

Flash has changed storage forever and almost every new array purchase needs to have some degree of flash included, so the market now offers three distinct types of array: Hybrid – Exploits the performance of flash and the lower cost of HDDs All-Flash hybrid – Packaged to deliver a low cost per GB of flash Ground-up design – Purely designed for flash with no support for HDDs As always there is a huge range of price points, due to the architecture, features and performance scaling, for these arrays. Efficiency features are critical in some use cases (i.e. VDI), but less so in many others and performance scaling for the majority of solutions is substantially higher than legacy arrays built just for Continue reading

What were the major announcements at EMC World 2014?

Now that the dust has settled on EMC World 2014 we have put together a quick summary of the major announcements: VNX – Hybrid Unified Array D@RE (Data-At-Rest-Encryption) will enable a fully integrated and simple to deploy option to encrypt all the data within the array. Interestingly all VNX2s have shipped with the encryption hardware included, it will just require a software update and license to enable the feature. Support for 800 GB eMLC drives should make it more affordable to create a large all-flash tier and take advantage of the MCx flash-optimisation technology. It was announced that later this year vVNX (aka Project Liberty) will be released which will make it possible to spin-up a fully featured VNX either in your “Private Continue reading

Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp storage arrays – Part 2 (NAS Features)

EMC, HDS and NetApp are leaders in storage technology and the good news is that they are not carbon copies of each other. They have all made different architectural choices which means they each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is never going to be the case that one of these vendors is always the best and one is always the weakest, so the challenge for the storage buyer is to find the platform that is the best match for their organisations requirements. This exercise is a real challenge, on paper all the products look fantastic, but as always the devil is in the detail. Just seeing if a product supports a particular feature is not enough, it all comes Continue reading

Comparing EMC, HDS and NetApp storage arrays – Part 1 (Block Features)

EMC, HDS and NetApp are leaders in storage technology and the good news is that they are not carbon copies of each other. They have all made different architectural choices which means they each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses. It is never going to be the case that one of these vendors is always the best and one is always the weakest, so the challenge for the storage buyer is to find the platform that is the best match for their organisations requirements. This exercise is a real challenge, on paper all the products look fantastic, but as always the devil is in the detail. Just seeing if a product supports a particular feature is not enough, it all comes Continue reading