EMC Adds 8-Gig Fibre Channel to Symmetrix V-Max


EMC (NYSE: EMC) has added 8 Gigabit per second Fibre Channel and FICON connectivity to its high-end Symmetrix V-Max data storage arrays.

EMC claims the V-Max is the first high-end data storage system with native 8Gbps FC host connectivity for both mainframe and open systems environments, beating high-end rivals IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) to the punch.

Bob Wambach, EMC's senior director of Enterprise Storage, said that virtual server environments mean "fewer servers and I/O pipes," so connections need to be maximized with higher-performance options.

8-Gig FC has already appeared in a number of midrange storage arrays. Wambach said the qualification process for high-end storage systems is more complicated, and users want to experiment with new storage networking technologies before deploying them in mission-critical data center environments.

EMC won't be alone with high-end 8-gig FC for long; an HDS spokesperson said in an email that the company "will have 8Gb/s Fibre Channel support generally available for our high-end solutions next month," but no formal announcement is planned.

IBM, meanwhile, said it plans native 8-gig FC for the DS8000 in 2010.

EMC is also adding support for 8-gig FICON and SRDF (Symmetrix Remote Data Facility), as well as support for the mainframe zHPF protocol (high-performance FICON for IBM z systems).

EMC is also upgrading its thin provisioning capabilities for the V-Max — dubbed Virtual Provisioning by EMC — to add zero space reclamation to reclaim allocated but unused storage capacity, thick-to-thin and thin-to-thick support for EMC TimeFinder/Clone software, and automated rebalancing of Virtual Provisioning storage pools to meet capacity demands. EMC said the enhancements can help users reclaim up to 40 percent of their allocated capacity.

EMC has also doubled the drive count of the V-Max, added software compression for SRDF traffic, and also added the ability to securely erase solid state drives (SSDs) automatically prior to a drive replacement to protect the security of data. The EMC arrays detect drive problems before failures occur, enabling drives to be replaced before they fail.

EMC isn't saying much about future changes for the V-Max, except to say that its new fully automated storage tiering (FAST) technology will be able to function at the sub-LUN level in the second half of 2010.

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