EMC gets flashier with latest hybrid storage array


SUMMARY:EMC sees the appeal of flash storage but maintains that hybrid arrays still suit most customer requirements.

Last week was VMware’s time to shine. Now parent company EMC is strutting its stuff — in Milan — unveiling an updated VNX hybrid storage array that it claims is now built with fast flash storage in mind first and foremost, but also incorporates disk storage as needed.

As Computerworld’s Stephen Lawson reported:

“As the cost of flash media falls and more enterprises turn to it for faster access to at least some of their data, hybrid arrays of both SSDs (solid-state disks) and HDDs (hard disk drives) are becoming an enterprise storage mainstay. Getting the full benefit of flash in those platforms requires more than just installing SSDs in place of spinning disks, so EMC and others are upping their game to increase speed across the board.”

Besides contending with traditional rivals like NetApp, which has a flash story of its own, EMC faces increasing competition from smaller storage upstarts including all-flash-all-the-time players like Skyera andPure Storage and Nimble Storage – all of whom say all-flash storage is becoming price competitive with spinning disk. Frankly, most customers disagree, but many do see a place for flash storage for certain workloads. EMC obviously saw the challenge, and dropped big dough to buyExtremeIO last year and ScaleIO earlier this summer. Update: Other upstart hybrid players include Nimble Storage.

Also in Milan, EMC said its ViPR storage virtualization product will be available within a month and demonstrated Project Nile, based on that technology, which promises to let third-party service providers offer their customers flexible and scalable storage services “similar to those offered by the web-scale Public Cloud providers, but with the control security and reliability of a Private Cloud.”

EMC, like VMware and other legacy IT providers, is ramping up its response to the aforementioned public cloud providers (a.k.a. Amazon Web Services). That’s why VMware built vCloud Hybrid Services, which despite its name is a public cloud, and why EMC is offering storage-as-a-service. Still, given these companies’ enterprise legacy — and the pricing and licensing models that implies — customers must be convinced that their products are price-competitive with what they can rent from Amazon.

This story was updated at 11:27 a.m. PDT September 4 to reflect that Nimble Storage is a hybrid, not a pure-flash, storage company.