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© 2014 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

VMAX to the Power of Three
Any new product from an industry leader is guaranteed attention; when that new product is the new version of
arguably, yet probably, EMC’s flagship product, the publicity is guaranteed to be as intense as the scrutiny. If you are
already drenched in VMAX
specifications and hyperbole, then you can skip to the analysis sections; if you’d like a
succinct summary of (and some commentary on) the key elements in the announcement first, then here goes:

 Basics: VMAX
comes in three new models: 100K, 200K, and 400K, which provide from one to eight
management “engines” (each with up to 2TB cache), supporting between ¼ million to over 3 million IOPS,
and from just over 2PB to close to 10 PB of capacity, together with hundreds of ports to permit extensive
addressability. This equates to a dramatic increase in both capacity and I/O capability per floor tile, as well
as being a generally more capacious and beefier system than its predecessor. These are, frankly, today’s
table stake expectations, though EMC delivers admirably. The performance of all this raw material is further
accelerated by lots of flash (and internal Infiniband!) that’s optimized to enable the kind of useful scalability
that can in turn support massive consolidation (it can scale to support 70,000 virtual machines, compared
with the 12,000 of the prior VMAX 40K product). Furthermore, the levels of availability, and layers of both
security and data protection are suitably impressive.

 Management Architecture: Users steeped in EMC history will remember that its original “Direct Matrix”
architecture was eventually superseded by the “Virtual Matrix.” That now gives way to the “Dynamic Virtual
Matrix,” which manages the pooling and workload-allocation of resources (CPUs, ports, disks, etc.) across its
[up to] 384 cores. A new “HYPERMAX” Operating System replaces the venerable Enginuity (although other
popular tools like VPLEX, SRDF, and RecoverPoint retain their names and functions) and helps manage a
comprehensive array of data services (a notable addition is a much-improved snap function), while also
featuring an embedded “Storage Hypervisor” capability in the array. The ability to embed services running in
a VMAX can be used for storage-related or particularly low-latency workloads and data services; this
certainly looks to be the first step on a path where more remain to be taken.
 Integrated Data Management: One of the most significant elements in this new VMAX product is the way
that management is not only, and necessarily, streamlined compared with prior EMC tools, but workloads
can also be provisioned automatically via just a few clicks based on the demanded service levels (in terms of
millisecond response times).
This is the kind of service-based approach that cloud users of all types
(public/private) understand and want; it builds on EMC’s experience with its earlier Cloud Edition (“CE”) of
VMAX. Additionally, as one might imagine, workloads can be seamlessly tiered across the data. More
surprising is the announcement of “ProtectPoint,” a tool that is managed directly from the application server

Please visit EMC’s website for a complete feature, function, and specification list.
EMC states 6x9s, but is already presenting 7x9s.
Chosen response times range from 0.1 to 1.0 milliseconds (“Diamond”) through to 6-30 milliseconds (“Silver”), or can be system optimized.
Storage Systems Brief
is EMC’s “Enterprise Data Service Platform for
Hybrid Clouds”
Date: July 2014 Author: Mark Peters, Senior Analyst
Abstract: EMC just launched VMAX
, its latest iteration at the top end of its general-purpose storage offerings. With
a raft of new features and the new descriptor (used in the title of this brief), the new product should garner interest as
much for what it actually is, as for its birthplace. In essence, EMC is intending the new VMAX to combine the best of
two worlds: traditional enterprise infrastructures and the services bent that typifies cloud approaches. While most
loyal EMC users will likely find much to like and to value, EMC must maintain a careful balance as it seeks to drive
storage integration to the top of the stack, to not just retain its base but to try to take market share.
Storage Systems Brief: VMAX3 is EMC’s “Enterprise Data Service Platform for Hybrid Clouds” 2
© 2014 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
and which allows for direct back up from VMAX
to DataDomain in order to free up resources and ease
restores. It leverages point-in-time copies of data on the VMAX and stores the changes on Data Domain.
Even this quick summary is selective, as EMC is clearly intent to do its utmost to (minimally) retain its market position.

Everything from the new 3D-effect bezel, to the proactive “hinting” FAST now delivers, to the increased emphasis on
EMC’s strong support credentials can be seen to be emphasizing both “cool” and “credible” in equal measure.
Analysis and Market Relevance
There can be no doubt that the VMAX
is a significant introduction of a highly scalable product from a market leader.

That makes it inherently interesting, but it also makes it all-too-tempting to review it competitively merely in terms of
“specsmanship” and a checklist examination of individual features. Frankly, for the users and uses where VMAX is sold
and targeted, there are a number of excellent competing products, all sporting numerous valuable features. In the
rarified air of this market, differentiation and value is measured at a level way beyond the datasheet, and for VMAX
this can be viewed from four main angles:
 Delivering requisite user value: Storage systems are part of an IT ecosystem and are increasingly measured
by their ability to contribute to improved IT and business outcomes as much as by simply being a necessary
tool. The ESG research in Figure 1 shows that respondents
most often justify their IT investments in terms
of ROI, reduced operational expenditures, and business process improvement. The highly integrated and
service-level managed VMAX is well-suited to deliver a mix of operational ease and financial viability that
can improve all three elements.
Furthermore, a key to the market emphasis and attraction of this new
product is to deliver this mix simultaneously in one platform for two distinct (and often separately existing)
IT user types (see next section), thereby further multiplying the efficiencies.
Figure 1. Most Important Considerations for Justifying IT Investments to Business Management, 2014

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group, 2014.
 Bridging IT worlds: The bottom line intent for this new VMAX is to “cross-breed” the economics, flexibility,
and self-service ease-of-use inherent in cloud-style computing with the more traditionally data-center-
associated attributes of immensely trustworthy IT and rock-solid mission-critical suitability. The resulting

Most functionality is available immediately, but a few elements of the VMAX
package will be a quarter or so after GA. These include encryption,
mainframe support, and ProtectPoint. The short expected delay realistically means that these are marketing, rather than market challenges.
EMC has been at pains to point out that the new VMAX is not just aimed at mega-users, but that its use is driven by functional suitability.
Source: ESG Research Report, 2014 IT Spending Intentions Survey, February 2014.
0% 10% 20% 30% 40%
Reduced time-to-market for our products or
Improved regulatory compliance
Reduction in capital expenditures
Improved security/risk management
Business process improvement
Reduction in operational expenditures
Return on investment
Most important considerations for justifying IT investments to business management team
(Percent of respondents, three responses accepted)
Storage Systems Brief: VMAX3 is EMC’s “Enterprise Data Service Platform for Hybrid Clouds” 3
© 2014 by The Enterprise Strategy Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VMAX is a thoroughbred that can be enjoyed whether its rider wears chinos and an Oxford or shorts and a
hoodie! While these two user communities (traditional data center infrastructure purchasers and emerging
cloud service purchasers) may seem different, they foundationally require the same things: extremely high
levels of availability, flexibility, performance, and function that is easy to deploy and use to good effect. Both
communities have traditionally had distinct environments, both of which have equally had their own pros
and cons: In the latter category, frustrations are often found with cloud approaches regarding performance
and complexity challenges, while the challenges of traditional approaches tend to be rooted in less
perceived ability to drive attractive costs, flexibility, and, hence, ROI.
is aimed at the upsides of both
with the downsides of neither. Each approach has some value, and that’s why hybrid is an optimum route.
 “Leadership
”: To play off of the superscript

that EMC is applying to its new VMAX, it is worth noting that
EMC has a leadership position in three ways, which combine to make its crown an exceedingly difficult one
to shift for the competition and to equally continue to make doing business with EMC an easy decision:
o Shipments and installed base: Although storage does not have the dominant one or two players of
other IT markets (such as networking or hypervisors), EMC and VMAX have had a leading market share
for many years; users are comfortable and confident, which matters for mission-critical workloads.
o Product feature set: One could argue (and competitors will) about the overall merits of VMAX
, but EMC
has once again produced a compelling and advanced offering with massive raw horsepower that is
enhanced by attractive new or improved features (respective examples are ProtectPoint and snap) and
swathed in its new service-level defined, automated, enterprise-class integrated wrapper.
o Marketing: No one has ever accused EMC of being backward about coming forward! The mere fact that
EMC is calling VMAX
its “Enterprise Data Service Platform for Hybrid Clouds” sounds beguilingly simple,
yet that is at the heart of EMC’s market-defining abilities and will, one can be sure, be imitated.
 EMC’s “to do” list: Of course, no vendor ever has everything perfect, nor all their own way. While EMC has
buckets of market credibility to spare, it must still complete its full committed feature roll-out (no doubt
suffering the slings and arrows of outraged dismay from its competitors while it does so!) and prove that the
product can do everything (especially the service-level automation) as advertised. And while the logic of the
economically attractive and fully integrated “enterprise-solidity + cloud-ease” package is hard to argue, EMC
must manage the balancing act of its positioning carefully in order to not cause angst or frustration, or
suggest compromise anywhere in its hybrid constituencies.
The Bigger Truth
EMC has subsumed terms and abilities, coolness and credibility, and leadership confidence in abundance into VMAX
. It
is balancing big scale, performance, and function with big trust, agility, and simplicity; if you like, it is big mission-
criticality meets big data. The big question is whether different demographic groups (traditional data center
infrastructure purchasers and emerging cloud service purchasers) will both gravitate to its combined attractions. The
odds seem good: much as a whole new generation doesn’t want to know or deal with configuring FC switches and LUNs,
an existing generation for which the point at which the old norm of IT “plate spinning” exceeds human ability is rapidly
being reached. Each wants at least some of what the other has, and the significance of EMC’s VMAX
is that it looks to
have achieved a “foot-in-both-camps” package that is credible, necessary, and has been achieved while maximizing on
the attributes of both worlds, without compromising on the needs of either.

ESG research shows that performance concerns and organizational complexity are barriers to more pervasive use of cloud computing among
actual cloud services users than they are barriers to adoption among non-cloud users, suggesting that cloud isn’t always what it promises to be.
This ESG Brief was commissioned by EMC and is distributed under license from ESG. All trademark names are property of their respective companies. Information contained in this
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