Kaminario K2 vs Dell EMC PowerMax: Comparing All Flash Arrays

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Kaminario K2 (rebranded as Silk) and Dell EMC PowerMax and both highly regarded by analysts who cover all-flash array. As for the respective vendors, both continue to innovate. No sooner has one gained an edge than the other catches up.

That said, there are differences between these two products in areas such as availability, pricing, mode of delivery, analytics capabilities, replication, NVMe infrastructure, backup/DR, IOPS, throughput and latency.

Kaminario K2 has carved out a niche in online transactional processing (OLTP) while Dell EMC PowerMax wins out for its large customer base. Existing customers gain added value and integration simplicity by sticking to a Dell/EMC platform.

Kaminario has some NVMe features but Dell EMC has rolled out an end-to-end NMVe array. Dell EMC was scored higher by Gartner on Ability to Execute while Kaminario scored better on Completeness of Vision. Kaminario also dominated on Gartner’s Critical Capabilities list. However, Dell EMC’s latest array may have evened the score or even surged ahead due to its NVMe architecture.

Both all flash arrays solutions made EnterpriseStorageForum‘s list of top all flash products. Here we look at both products’ key features and examine their respective strengths and weaknesses.

Jump to:  K2 vs PowerMax Comparison Table

Feature-by-feature breakdown


Kaminario claims 5 9s while Dell EMC claims 6 9s availability. The difference may not be important except to the most mission critical applications. After all, the extra nine means 31.56 seconds of downtime per year compared to 5.26 minutes. That is rarely going to be a deal breaker, except for a small subset of organizations. Further, the additional price tag in achieving that extra 9 may convince some that 5 9s is more than good enough.


Kaminario wins out here for its offerings of an appliance or a cloud version. Dell EMC only offers an appliance. Many users, these days, want a pay-as-you-go cloud offering rather than having to front up a large amount of Capex for an array. This may play into Kaminario’s hands in some deals.


Pricing is a touchy area for most vendors. It is often difficult to get usable price quotes and even more difficult to be given anything close to apples-to-apples numbers. Users are advised to contact the vendors or their reps for accurate data. Per what we are being told from both sides, the starting price for Kaminario is $30,000 and the rate per GB is less than $1 per GB, dropping to .50 cents or less for its cloud offering. Dell EMC, on the other hand, starts at less than $200,000 and was unable to supply a price per GB figure. But users should inquire what $200,000 would buy you from Kaminario and see how that compares with Dell EMC in terms of specs. That may make it more obvious who offers the most bang for the buck.

Meanwhile, Gartner noted that Dell EMC offers competitive discounts, especially for those deploying multiple Dell EMC tools and platforms. So there may be plenty of wiggle room in their numbers. That said, Gartner also cautioned users about add-on charges to Dell EMC arrays for such services as ViPR, VPLEX and RecoverPoint.


NVM Express (NVMe) is a device interface spec for accessing storage media via a PCIe bus. It delivers a major jump in performance. Kaminario raced out of the gate ahead of the all flash array vendor pack with some NVMe features and scored high in Gartner’s Critical Capabilities matrix for solid state arrays as a result. However, with PowerMax, Dell EMC has moved ahead with end-to-end NVMe.


Kaminario has been the traditional leader in all flash array performance. Its 1.5 million IOPs and 50 GB/s throughput are impressive. However, PowerMax boasts up to 10 million IOPs and 150 GB/s throughput.

That’s why Dell EMC claims it now has the fastest all flash array in the world. When Gartner issues an update to its Critical Capabilities report for all flash arrays, it will be interesting to see if PowerMax gains top spot in independent testing.


Dell EMC has recently rolled out PowerMax with machine learning. However, it still has a ways to go to catch up to Kaminiaro with its real-time analytics capabilities. It remains to be seen whether Dell EMC will add further analytics features or will look to its partner ecosystem to supply them.

Product Portfolio Breadth

Dell EMC is a juggernaut in the storage/IT space. Kaminario offers all flash arrays. Thus Dell EMC can fold a raft of additional products into its deals. This includes servers, networking, storage software, backup, disaster recovery, VMware tools, security tools and much more. This makes PowerMax a more alluring offering for those either already on Dell or EMC platforms, or those wishing to consolidate within IT. That said, Kaminario only does all flash arrays and has a focus on that product that gives it an edge as a best of breed vendor of choice.

Take the case of snapshots and replication. Both offer snapshotting, but Kaminario falls short on replication. Its asynchronous replication capabilities don’t rank well compared to Dell EMC with its active/active replication smarts. Similarly, Gartner noted that Kaminario has only limited QoS.

Data Reduction

Kaminario offers good deduplication and compression features. However, it is up against a Dell EMC heritage that includes a decade of market leadership in data reduction. It is very hard for a specialized company such as Kaminario to compete in this category, yet it has done well to augment its offering with decent data reduction features.

Gartner Rating

Gartner scored both vendors in the Leaders quadrant in its solid state array report last year. It had Kaminario ahead on vision and Dell EMC leading in ability to execute. Since then, Kaminario has released a cloud version whereas Dell EMC has completely revamped its all flash array line with PowerMax. Thus Kamininario wins in this category but watch out for a new Gartner Magic Quadrant report.

Gartner Critical Capabilities

Kaminario was king in the last Gartner Critical Capabilities for solid state arrays assessment. It won in three out of five categories and beat Dell EMC’s previous VMax all flash array in OLTP, server virtualization, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, high performance computing and analytics. It was very much a no contest. But that was before PowerMax. Kaminario gets the nod in this category based on last year’s Gartner results. It remains to be seen whether it can innovate and execute sufficiently to retain first place when the next Gartner ratings are released.

Feature Kaminario K2 Rating Dell EMC PowerMax Rating Comment / Supporting Info
Availability Good Top of class Dell EMC offers one more 9 of availability
Delivery Top of class OK PowerMax is only available as an appliance. Kaminario has appliance and cloud versions
Price High end More expensive The starting price for Dell EMC is significantly higher
NVMe Good Top of class Dell EMC just rolled out end-to-end NVMe
Performance Good Top of class Kaminario has led the way for a long time but PowerMax just moved ahead.
Analytics Top of class Good Kaminario’s real-time analytics earns top rating
Product Portfolio One product Full portfolio Dell EMC wins resoundingly
Data Reduction Good Top of class Dell EMC has more than a decade of leadership in data reduction
Gartner Rating Good Top of class Both were graded as leaders, but Dell EMC scored slightly higher
Gartner Critical Capailities Top of class OK Garner scored Kaminario well ahead of Dell EMC’s previous version, VMax. Unless Kaminario brings out an upgrade, PowerMax may topple it in the next Gartner assessment


Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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