EMC’s Symmetrix DMX Series Goes Live

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Hoping to regain market share lost to competitors HP and IBM in the high-end storage space, EMC Monday debuted its
highly-anticipated new line of Symmetrix storage servers supported by a new

The Matrix and the Event in NYC

The Symmetrix DMX series is based on what the Hopkinton, Mass. storage
specialist calls a “revolutionary” Direct Matrix Architecture geared to
provide unparalleled performance, scalability and cost-effectiveness for
enterprise customers.

Featuring a new interconnect framework for piping data effortlessly from one point to another, Direct Matrix Architecture eliminates the performance ceiling inherent in all bus- and switch-based storage architectures. EMC pledges the
Matrix will provide high performance for sustained workloads and unexpected
activity. The concern also guaranteed that all of its software is compatible
with the DMX line. For example, the new DMX series can be managed by EMC
ControlCenter open management software, which happens to provide management
capabilities for all other major storage platforms.

EMC President and CEO Joe Tucci, who was in New York with is management team
to unveil the sixth iteration of the Symmetrix line, said his firm could
have developed yet another bus- or switch-based Symmetrix, but chose not to
because customers were expecting something more powerful, and worth the

Tucci said he and his team, including David Donatelli, head of storage platforms, entertained the notion of producing a Symmetrix version between 5.5 and the current version. But, he said, they cast that idea aside to focus on the Direct Matrix Architecture.

Donatelli showed how EMC’s Enginuity operating system can handle bursts of
unexpected activity during the DMX product launch, as well as integrity
checks with his company’s new “unique component isolation.” Tucci said EMC made
an enormous hardware technology advance while maintaining complete
continuity with our Enginuity operating environment and software. “Common
practice across the industry is to sacrifice one for the other,” Tucci said.

Donatelli also explained the concepts of modular storage, in which customers receive
pieces of a storage system to allow for better granularity, and monolithic
storage, where customers receive the entire system at once. Donatelli said his
firm’s rack-mounted DMX800 should prove to be an attractive buy for firms
who want to add storage capabilities incrementally. EMC said it beat out one
of its own products with DMX800: a Symmetrix DMX800 system configured with
7.2 usable terabytes offers up to three times higher performance at a list
price that is almost a third lower than last year’s Symmetrix 8530 system
with the same capacity.

On another key note, the outfit said the DMX line is designed for full
compliance with the Storage Management Initiative (SMI) (previously known as
Bluefin) specifications when they become accepted beginning this year. EMC has taken a beating publicly from rivals such as Sun, HP and IBM for pledging support for SMI, but not producing concrete products that are compliant with it.

What the Analysts and Rivals are Saying

EMC, who has lost market share to HP and IBM in the past couple of years,
hopes the new product will give it the momentum its needs to regain its
king-of-the-storage-hill status, a tough feat in a time when the storage
segment — and the IT industry overall — is experiencing stagnancy.

Analysts were supportive. Randy Kerns, Partner at The Evaluator Group, described EMC’s DMX line and new interconnect schema as a “quantum leap” in storage.

“This eliminates the risk of implementing new technology and waiting for
code stabilization,” Kerns said. “The benefit for customers is that they
won’t suffer from the year-long new product shakeouts typical in this

Enterprise Storage Group Senior Analyst Nancy Marrone also lauded EMC’s achievements, noting the products “definitely put EMC back in the performance leadership position, which they could not claim in recent years.”

Marrone discussed the DMA architecture with internetnews.com: “According to the numbers posted by EMC, the DMX architecture produces incredible throughput up to 64GB/s, which is 40x the current Symmetrix throughput (and 6x the HDS 9980v). It certainly does seem like the direct path architecture (between channel directors and cache) eliminates any previous issues with bottlenecks in bus and switch architectures.”

Marrone continued: “There are really three key aspects of this announcement. First, of course, is the fact that EMC has totally revamped their Symmetrix line and provided the
highest performing arrays on the market. Second, the introduction of the
modular solution enables EMC to target a market they previously could not tap
with the Symmetrix products, as the modular products provide high-end
functionality at “mid-tier” price points. This enables users to enter the high
end at a lower price point, and we assume EMC is counting on those customers
needing to expand on those modular systems over time.”

Lastly, Marrone said the common architecture provides a great deal of flexibility for the

“All of the software available for Symmetrix solutions today is available
for the new Symmetrix line on release, and there is disk compatibility across
lines as well,” Marrone said. “What does this mean to the user? Of course all products will be able to be managed in a similar fashion, but the software compatibility allows
for some creative use of new and old solutions. Users could potentially use the
DMX 800 modular units as replication solutions for high end DMX or existing
Symmetrix, or even use the older Symmetrix as replication targets for the new
DMX solutions. The new architecture also provides an upgrade path from
existing CLARiiON solutions to the DMX 800 configuration.”

EMC couldn’t get through a full days worth of product news without competitive sniping. IBM derided EMC’s so-called proprietary nature.

“What customers really want are integrated solutions based on open standards — where they can buy servers, storage, and networking gear in one package — rather than piece together parts from niche competitors like EMC. If customers choose an EMC storage server, such as Symmetrix 6, they lose the ability to make choices and control their operating environment,” said Bob Samson, vice-president of worldwide systems sales for IBM’s Systems Group. “Customers are tired of being quilt makers, having to stitch together
all these different components.”

Sun Microsystems echoed IBM.

“With all of EMC’s announcements, we think it’s far more telling what they didn’t announce. They didn’t announce a 100% data availability guarantee, perhaps because they don’t use 100% data center components, or cache mirroring, both factors that enable Sun to be the only IT vendor offering this guarantee,” said Bill Groth, senior director, storage systems marketing, Sun Microsystems. “We also didn’t see them announce relief from bundled software or configuration charges. Unproven architecture, no guarantee and mandatory software license fees. We can understand why EMC would not want to promote these features to potential customers who are trying to do more with less as they seek maximum value with their limited IT budgets.”

Models, Availability and Pricing

The Symmetrix DMX Series is available in three models:

  • Symmetrix DMX800, a rack-mount system that scales from 8 to 16
    front-end ports, from 1.2 to 17.5 terabytes of raw capacity (1 to 15.3
    usable) and from 4 to 32 gigabytes of global cache for open systems
  • Symmetrix DMX1000, a single-bay integrated system, scales from 8 to 48
    front-end ports, from 3.5 to 21 terabytes of raw
    capacity (3 to 18.5 usable) and from 4 to 64 gigabytes of global cache for
    mainframe and open systems environments
  • Symmetrix DMX2000, a dual-bay integrated system, scales from 8 to 96
    front-end ports, from 7 to 42 terabytes raw capacity (6.1 to 37 usable) and
    from 8 to 128 gigabytes of global cache for mainframe and open systems

All Symmetrix DMX systems are available immediately, are priced from
$409,000 to $2.5 million and vary based on configuration. Support for FICON
mainframe connectivity, an IBM-devised technology considered vital in the storage sector, will be available this summer.

This story originally appeared on Internet News.

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Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton
Clint Boulton is an Enterprise Storage Forum contributor and a senior writer for CIO.com covering IT leadership, the CIO role, and digital transformation.

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