Dell EMC PowerMax: Product Overview and Insight

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Bottom Line:

Dell EMC is a dominant vendor the storage universe with a massive customer base. As such, the PowerMax – a flagship offering – is a new product that comes with rich NVMe features and top performance, although these come at a price premium. If cited performance figures are accurate, those requiring the very highest in IOPS and throughput should look no further. But those with less high end needs are advised to also consider rival offerings – unless they are already heavily invested in Dell EMC technologies and can benefit in terms of integration simplicity or pricing package deals.

Jump to: Dell EMC PowerMax Features Table

Company Description:

As a member of the Dell Technologies family of businesses, Dell EMC is a private company providing infrastructure for hybrid cloud and big data solutions. This includes converged infrastructure, servers, storage, and cybersecurity technologies. The company was formed in 2016 by the merger of Dell (founded 1984) and EMC (founded 1979).

Dell EMC is a Leader in the Gartner MQ. The analyst firm noted competitive discounts, aggressive purchase terms and reduced costs for warranty and maintenance. A customer complaint can sometimes be the requirement of extra purchases, such as ViPR, VPLEX and/or RecoverPoint, to provide integration.

Product Description:

The Dell EMC PowerMax is touted as world’s fastest storage array that features end-to-end non-volatile memory express (NVMe) and a machine learning engine to optimize performance. It provides six-nines of availability, data-at-rest encryption, scalability across open systems and mainframe storage, and provides data protection, including Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF). PowerMax can be expanded from one PowerMax brick with two controllers up to eight bricks and 16 controllers. PowerMax is built on the foundation of VMAX and offers data services such as remote replication for reliable BC/DR (SRDF/Metro). As PowerMax is a new product, no user comments are available. Comments are provided, however, for its previous generation VMAX array. VMAX was one of CRNs Products of the Year.

PowerMax is Dell EMC’s rebranded all-flash array VMAX. It’s far more than a simple rebrand though: major upgrades transform it into Tier 0 SAN storage for demanding workloads like genomics, Internet of Things, AI, and real-time analytics.

Architectural upgrades include adding NVMe, making PowerMax Dell EMC’s first hardware storage platform with an NVMe backend. The technology supports current and future NVMe development including very high-performance Storage Class Memory (SCM).



Very good. Dell EMC preconfigures PowerMax hardware (engines, drives, rack) and software at the factory resulting in a streamlined implementation and installation process that typically takes under 2 hours.

Technical support:

Very good.

Dell EMC Services offers extensive technical support and has approximately 60,000 team members consisting of more than 30,000 full-time services and support employees, and close to 30,000 service partner professionals in 165 countries worldwide. It offers deployment services, consulting and managed services. However, support services are tiered. Those paying the minimum may experience delays. To speed implementation of PowerMax, users can take advantage of Dell EMC ProDeploy Plus services for up to 66% faster deployment and up to 49% fewer technical support calls. Customers can also choose ProSupport Plus support delivered across their environment and up to 75% faster service request response time.

“Very good assessment, performance and risk mitigation. We have had all the support we needed,” said the Systems Manager of a financial services company.

Raw Capacity:

Up to 2 PB raw capacity, 4 PB effective capacity


10 Million IOPS

150 GB/s

Sub-300 microseconds latency

“The VMAX All Flash Arrays function as Dell/EMC advertised. Easy to use and administrate. Performance is better than expected. Reliability is as advertised at 6 9’s of availability,” said the IT Manager of a retail company.  

RAID/Data Protection:

  • Six-nines of availability; non-disruptive data migration (NDM) and non-disruptive upgrades
  • Local protection with space-efficient snapshots; any point-in-time recovery; direct backup to Dell EMC Data Domain
  • Hardware encryption with [email protected]; secure snapshots; tamper-proof audit logs and secure access controls
  • PowerMax provides active-active metro-cluster replication. Both sites are available and writable to enable true constant availability and stretch clusters.
  • PowerMax offers efficient RAID 5 and 6 options. PowerMax RAID 5 allows customers to use 85% of capacity after RAID 5 overhead.
  • Remote replication for reliable BC/DR (SRDF/Metro).

Storage Saving Features:

Inline deduplication, compression and thin provisioning

Data Management:

Built-in machine learning engine for automated data placement

Analyze and forecast 40M data sets with zero overhead in a 200 TB system

Built-in storage hypervisor to run embedded applications

Embedded NAS and management

Support for open systems, mainframe, IBM i, and file storage on the same array

PowerMax data services scale to 64,000 LUNs

Intelligent data placement through ML/AI and QoS.

A machine learning engine to optimize performance.


PowerMax is delivered as a storage array with a multi-controller architecture.


Prices start at less than $200,000.

Dell EMC PowerMax

Scale-up Yes
Scale-out Yes
Raw capacity (no deduplication) 2 PB
Effective capacity 4 PB
Networking (Max speed in Gbps)
Fibre Channel 16 Gbs
Ethernet/iSCSI 10GbE
Infiniband Yes
FCoE Yes
IOPs 10M
Throughput 150 GB/s
Latency 300 microsecs
Storage Saving Features
Deduplication Yes
Compression Yes
Thin provisioning Yes
Data encryption Yes
Snapshots Yes
Replication (synch or asynch?) Both
Percentage uptime (ex.: 99.999) 6 x 9
Non-disruptive software upgrades Yes
Non-disruptive hardware upgrades Yes
Base warranty: array Yes
Base warranty: flash Yes
Flash replacement if drive/module wears out before warranty expires? Yes
Gartner Magic Quadrant Rating Leader
Price Prices start at less than $200,000.
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.

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