It's EMC's big announcement day.
The online event has a bunch of cool content (and a few surprises!) that I won't be covering in this post, so -- if you have the time -- please see it here.
Every since we started promoting this event, there's been all sorts of speculation as to what we'd be announcing.
A few small details have already leaked out, but there's so much more to talk about.
Let's start at a very high level -- today's announcement is all about breaking records.
For starters, this is the biggest announcement in the storage industry -- ever.
Just about every aspect of our core storage portfolio is either new, or significantly updated.
That's a new industry record from the industry's storage leader -- EMC.
As a result, there will be plenty to digest for customers, partners, analysts and competitors for some time to come.
Some will be interested in one aspect or another, but I'd encourage everyone to step back a bit, and focus on the broader thematics here before diving into the details.
To Begin With
At our live events in New York, London and Singapore, we're going to be setting some context before diving into all the new goodness.
For the last 13 years, EMC has been the market share leader in the storage industry. Over that time, our market share has grown considerably.
During this period, not only have we greatly extended traditional forms of storage -- file and block -- but have introduced entirely new forms of storage, like object.
We've moved outside the enterprise -- to consumer and smaller businesses, as well as -- more recently -- the new generation of service providers.
Sure, we've got strong competition, but we know our mission at EMC, and we continue to gain market share with every passing year. This year should be no exception, either -- especially with all these new products we're announcing today.
Things Are Changing, And Fast
You're free to debate specifics, but there's general agreement that cloud concepts are changing how we think about IT, and quickly.
Clouds are built differently, operated differently and consumed differently than traditional forms of IT -- and they impact how we think about storage going forward.
More importantly, clouds greatly reduce the friction associated with consuming IT in all its forms -- and anything that's easier to consume gets consumed more. More IT services consumed, more information generated and used -- another direct impact on storage.
Create a big enough pool of compute, information and storage, point it at a specific opportunity, and you've entered the world of big data -- one where people look at massive amounts of information as a good thing, rather than something to be avoided.
The Information Age Is Upon Us
In 2009, the prediction was 44x information growth by the end of this decade.
All indications point to the fact that this prediction -- however mind-boggling -- is probably too conservative.
Pervasive connectivity is creating entirely new devices that generate and consume information on a scale we could scarcely imagine just a few short years ago. More transactions, more events, more sounds, more images -- the deluge appears to be growing in a non-linear fashion.
Transactions and events are gathered, analyzed, formatted and distributed. Video is captured, edited, distributed -- and subsequently mashed up and re-used perhaps hundreds of times.
And there appears to be no limits to our hunger for even more information.
I'd argue we've entered the Information Age -- one where the new form of value is represented with ones and zeros.
Not surprisingly, storage -- as an enabling technology -- is at ground zero here.
Think back to that nasty economic recession in 2009, the one we're just starting to get out of now.
Just about every economic indicator went seriously negative during this period -- except one: information growth.
During a period of severe economic contraction, we still managed to generate 62% more stored information than the previous year. I'm still thinking about what that might really mean.
New Words To Describe Volumes Of Information
During the first part of my career, the most common information capacity measure grew to megabytes -- millions of bytes. I remember when a 146 megabyte hard drive was a Really Big Deal.
As I joined EMC some 16 years ago, I learned to describe disk and array capacity in gigabytes -- billions of bytes. At the time, the industry was transitioning from 1 GB and 3 GB drives to 9 GB drives.
The first enormous three-cabinet Symmetrix 3000 was unique at the time because it supported a terabyte -- a trillion bytes -- of raw capacity. I think it cost over a million dollars at the time -- but people bought a lot of them.
This was shortly followed by an engineering exercise where we worked with Oracle ("Scaling The Terabyte") where we demonstrated the first production terabyte-class Oracle database using the Symmetrix.
Tens of terabytes were followed by hundreds of terabytes -- and, before long, we started to use the term petabyte more frequently -- a thousand terabytes.
Now, as we'll see in a moment, the word petabyte will shortly fall by the wayside, to be replaced by the increasingly-frequent term exabyte -- a thousand petabytes, or a million terabytes -- as you prefer.
And, to describe all information in aggregate, we'll need the word zettabyte -- a thousand exabytes, or a million petabytes, or a trillion terabytes -- whichever is more convenient.
The Growing Petabyte Club
Late last year, I wrote a post detailing a key milestone -- that we had more than 1,000 customers who were members of our informal "EMC Petabyte Club".
Each had deployed over a petabyte -- a thousand terabytes -- of EMC storage.
I'm afraid that -- before long -- that statistic will look very quaint indeed.
Why? Give current rates of growth, our best projections show that -- before the end of the decade -- we'll likely have 100,000 members of this club.
Membership will likely be quite commonplace.
Instead, by 2012 or so, we're forecasting that we'll have to start a new, informal club -- the EMC Exabyte Club -- to recognize those few customers who've reached an exabyte -- a thousand petabytes -- of EMC storage capacity.
And, not surprisingly, membership in that elite club will also grow over time.
In the information age, big data becomes the new normal.
Where Do We See Ourselves?
Right now, we see ourselves at the intersection of one traditional market, and two powerful new mega-trends: cloud computing and big data.
Cloud computing has the potential to make IT service delivery substantially more cost-effective and agile.
It creates the foundation to point massive amounts of information at entirely new opportunities: big data.
That particular intersection is a good place to be, if you're an IT vendor.
On To The Announcements!
Stepping back a bit, most people perceive EMC storage products as great stuff, but not exactly small, affordable and simple.
Well, we'd like to fix that.
We've taken a clean-sheet-of-paper approach to designing an entirely new storage array, built expressly for IT generalists and the environments they work in.
Not every IT person works in a larger organization. And not every IT person has the luxury of investing considerable time to become a storage expert.
The new storage platform can be installed in minutes, and configured in seconds.
It offers twice the capacity at half the cost of most competitive alternatives.
Help is there when you need it, often just one click away.
And it's available in a useful configuration for less than $10k.
The New VNXe
Although it re-uses many of the proven code assets we've created over the years, it's an entirely new design for EMC, pointed at a new market for us, using a new go-to-market model and a new support model.
Although it's fair to compare any new thing to what's already out there, meaningful comparisons will likely be difficult.
For example, most people tend to describe storage in terms of hardware: capacity, number of devices, ports, etc.
And that's a function of software, not hardware.
Indeed, the VNXe can best be appreciated as a "shared storage application" that happens to run on a nifty piece of well-engineered, purpose-built hardware.
Many of us consider the VNXe very important --not only because it's a great product for a fast-growing and under-served market that's largely incremental for EMC -- but because many of its design principles are very likely to find their way into not only other EMC storage products but the broader storage industry at large.
The VNXe will likely receive a lot of attention during 2011 -- not only from our customers and partners, but our competitors as well :-)
Yes, Price Matters
So, here we go.
A usable real-deal configuration for a VNXe starts at $9260.
Yes, it's a real EMC storage array, with a lot of the same power and functionality as our bigger products. And, yes, as you configure more capacity the price goes up as you might expect.
But a real-deal EMC enterprise-class storage array for under $10k -- well, that should get a bit of attention.
A New Channel For EMC As Well
With the VNXe, we're jumping in with both feet.
It's a product expressly designed for volume distribution -- it's simple, efficient and profitable from the all-important channel partner perspective.
A preview of our commitment came last year, where we extended our successful EMC Velocity partner program, and created an entirely new sub-program for partners that want to sell this product, and perhaps no other.
For example, partners can be enabled to offer the VNXe with as little as five hours of training investment.
And we've earmarked at least $20M in 2011 to create awareness and demand for the VNXe.
Historically, most of this segment has gone to the server vendors (HP, IBM, Dell, etc.) -- by comparison, they really haven't been investing in improving their products in this category, leaving it largely wide-open to a new, focused competitor like EMC.
Oh yeah, and it comes from EMC :-)
One final note -- it turns out a lot of NetApp filers get sold in this segment as well.
And if you're into industry competition (who isn't?) watch this space get very noisy very quickly when these arrays start turning up in more places.
It should be fun to watch.
And If You Need More, Now There's The VNX
The new VNXe covers a healthy swath of the entry-to-midmarket storage demand -- after all, it can grow to a healthy 120 drives and 8 1GbE ports -- no modest array here!
But many customers need more, there's the new VNX.
Yes, it's the logical extension and convergence of the wildly successful CLARiiON (block) and Celerra (unified file and block) product lines.
It doesn't take much digging to find the antecedents of each product in the new VNX.
Frankly, to do otherwise would be foolhardy: both CLARiiON and Celerra have done (and continue to do well) in the marketplace -- they're both proven products with many thousands of happy customers. Why break a good thing?
Going forward, the VNX replaces both with a single, unified storage platform.
The headlines here are pretty straightforward.
Second, the combination of new technologies makes these arrays the most efficient in the industry -- period.
[Note: I heard we're increasing our famous "20% Guarantee" to 25% as a result -- stay tuned}.
Finally, the utter simplicity of the new VNX arrays -- thanks to Unisphere -- we think sets a new standard in the industry.
No Mere Processor Bump
Combine the fresh hardware with built-in use of enterprise-class flash drives intelligently for *both* I/O caching as well as storage targets (FAST Cache and FAST VP respectively) across the board and -- well --the result is performance that has to be experienced to be believed.
The new hardware can keep up with the amazing I/O rates that combined flash-as-cache and flash-as-storage can deliver. All that SSD goodness goes right to the application experience.
Here are just a few examples -- there are many more.
Oracle environments -- astounding.
VMware environments, especially VDI implementations -- astounding.
Microsoft environments -- astounding.
There will likely be competitors that claim that "performance doesn't matter" or "what do you expect with new hardware?". They're missing the point entirely.
No one I've met prefers slower to faster -- time is money.
And we're not talking a modest performance bump here simply because the processors are a bit faster -- this represents an entirely new storage performance domain.
If you've tried the new Unisphere mgmt environment (introduced last year), you'll probably agree that it sets a new standard for simplicity and operational efficiency.
Well, the new version of Unisphere on the VNX is even better in many regards.
If you haven't tried it, you should. But fair warning -- it'll be hard to go back to your old way of doing things.
At least -- that's what customers and partners have told us.
The New Standard -- VNX
I think the engineering teams have done a great job here -- taken the best of our proven storage platforms, and brought them forward into a new product line that's far faster, more efficient and far simpler to run than anything we've done before.
Again, since competition in this segment is so darn intense, I expect that -- once the initial rock-throwing is over -- people will realize that EMC has upped the game here considerably.
I hope non-EMC customers and partners make the time to evaluate what we've achieved with VNX -- it's pretty impressive.
If you'd like to read more about the new VNX and VNXe, please see this more detailed post.
But What If You Need EVEN MORE??
EMC Symmetrix customers are perhaps some of the most loyal storage customers in the industry.
They trust their most critical applications -- indeed, sometimes their entire business -- to this proven industry standard.
Today, we're not announcing new VMAX hardware. Sorry to those of you who were speculating in that direction.
Instead, we're announcing powerful new software that -- in many ways -- has much of the same impact as would a hardware announcement.
In essence, the VMAX has extended its category lead, and gotten a whole lot smarter as a result.
One rather pleasing impact of this new software is that -- yes -- the VMAX just got a whole lot faster due to some powerful new optimizations.
Many customer workloads and administrative activities are now roughly twice as fast than before. Specifics will vary, but just about everyone should see a noticeable improvement.
Combine the capacity and the performance of the VMAX, and you can come up with the potential for some pretty amazing environments.
One interesting exercise was figuring out just *how* many VMs could potentially be run on a single production VMAX.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's ~64k logical volumes * 128 VMs per logical volume, less overhead.
Just for fun, that would be roughly 400MB per VM :-)
No, we're not offering that as a standard supported configuration (at least, not without an RPQ!), and we don't recommend you trying this at home.
Unless you've got a maxed-out VMAX that is ...
The Magic of FAST VP
The most notable new feature here is the general availability of FAST VP, also called "sub-LUN tiering", although that term hardly does it justice.
The result is fundamental new economics around storage: faster, cheaper and more efficient.
Lots of examples and comparisons, but this one sort of stood out for me.
We estimate that -- through 2011 -- the adoption of FAST VP by our Symmetrix VMAX customers will result in saving an astounding 270 million kilowatt/hours. That's enough to power 24,400 homes.
From one storage software feature.
There's A Lot More Here As Well
New security features that -- when combined -- make the VMAX arguably the most secure storage array on the planet. A powerful non-disruptive migration feature that moves petabytes of information from old to new in 75% less time than before -- and without having to take any applications down. A new Virtual Storage Integrator that enables more efficient workflows between storage teams and server teams. And a whole lot more ...
I wrote a more detailed post here if you're interested.
And Great Stuff From Data Domain ...
Sure, tape will be around for a long, long time -- but, every year, customers are buying far fewer tape-based solutions, and investing far more in disk-based solutions for backup and archiving.
Indeed, arguing against this industry transition is like arguing against virtualization, or ethernet, or mobile devices. There's not much of a case that can be made that it's not happening -- no matter how much some might try.
Although there aren't great independent numbers available, it's pretty clear that EMC is far ahead in helping customers make this transition -- both in terms of capabilities and category market share.
Today's announcement boils down to two new important new things -- the world's fastest backup engines, and the industry's first solution for replacing tape-based long term archives.
The first represents an existing story just getting much better, the second represents an entirely new -- and significant -- market segment.
In Backup, Speed Matters -- A Lot
There's only so much time available for this important activity -- you can't arbitrarily create more time.
And, since data volumes continue to grow, and grow -- backup windows are continually under pressure, creating the demand for both more capacious -- and much faster -- backup engines.
Broadly speaking, there are two ways to get more speed: more processing power, or more spindles. Data Domain's approach is unique is that it simply gets faster as processors get faster and support more cores.
Over time, this has resulted in the performance gap between EMC and our competitors getting wider, and wider, and wider -- almost to the point of embarrassment.
As just one example, today's announcement of the DD890 (just one of the new units being announced) sets an entirely new performance bar -- 7x faster than the closest market competitor -- IBM.
The Benefits Aren't Theoretical
One of the areas where IT people usually have tight control of metrics, costs, etc. is in the area of backup and recovery. As a result, it's not hard to find great ROI numbers where customers have introduced these technologies.
Far faster backups. Far faster restores. Savings on environmentals. Savings on operational efforts. The list goes on and on.
I can't imagine why anyone would stick with tape, unless they were forced to for some unusual reason. But those reasons are getting fewer and farther between.
Attacking The Last Bastion Of Tape -- Data Domain Archiver
Like primary storage, backups are usually tiered. The most recent backups require the most performance, and are the most likely to be used if there's a problem.
Older backups are very infrequently accessed (if at all), which means that tape provided a decent cost-effective solution here as compared to alternatives.
However, we're betting that's going to change with the new Data Domain Archiver.
And the new software simply and automatically moves backup images from high-performance devices to cost-effective devices as backups progressively age.
The economics are now compelling for long-term retention. Like the existing Data Domain products, it "just works" with your existing backup software and processes.
And -- here's the magic -- since all of your data is sitting on random-access disk-based storage -- the costs and efforts associated with getting data back -- which is what those archives are used for, after all -- has been dramatically reducde.
There's more if you like -- I wrote an extended post here.
Putting The EMC Storage Story Together
This particular chart does a good job of explaining the EMC storage portfolio.
On the right side, we've got traditional enterprise storage use cases running all the applications we're so familiar with.
That side of the equation just got a massive update: the new VNX and VNXe, as well as big enhancements for the VMAX.
On the right side, we've got the brave new world of big data -- one that requires storage hardware and software designed for purpose, rather than simply adapted from more traditional enterprise roles.
Here you'll find storage products like the popular Greenplum DCA (data computing appliance), the inherently cloud-like Atmos, and -- the most recent member of the EMC family -- scale-out NAS from Isilon.
All that data needs to be protected, and it won't be going to tape for much longer.
Today's Data Domain announcements, when combined with the rest of the EMC BRS portfolio, present the single most comprehensive and advanced set of data protection capabilities in the industry -- bar none.
We think we've got the bases well covered in both worlds. Each product is best in class. Taken together, they represent a storage portfolio unmatched by any other vendor.
There's a lot in the extended EMC portfolio, and undoubtedly more to come :-)
But make no mistake -- at EMC, we've always been a leader in storage, and -- as you can see -- we show no wavering in our ongoing commitment to extend our lead into entirely new aspects of the storage industry.