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Today was the second day of EMC World 2016 in Las Vegas, NV. During the second day EMC built on the announcements they made in day 1. Neuralytix believes that there were several key points made today.

Joe Tucci’s farewell

One of the key events of EMC World 2016 is the pending merger with Dell. The strategic portion of the merger was covered yesterday. Today Joe Tucci, took time for an analyst Q and A session for the last time as the CEO of EMC. From an analyst perspective, Q & A sessions with Joe were always a highlight of EMC World. He is one of the more direct executives that the analyst community interacted with and was considered a straight shooter be many of the analysts present. This feeling was plainly evident in the questions that Joe was asked. In addition to the Q & A, Joe too the time for photos with all of the analysts present.

From a personal perspective, Neuralytix would like to take this opportunity to wish Joe all the success in his future endeavors. Covering EMC over the past several years has been fun and Joe’s directness and willingness to address the hard questions that analysts ask was contributed to the enjoyment of covering EMC.

Storage Drill-Down

Today, from a product side, EMC drilled down further on each of the announcements made yesterday. EMC emphasized its idea of “The Modern Datacenter” that is made up of four pillars:

EMC World The Modern Data CenterFigure 1: EMC’s vision of the modern datacenter (Source: EMC)

The 90-minute general session demonstrated a number of different technologies and their applicability to The Modern Datacenter. Among the demonstrations, two drill-downs were standouts, while the other demos reiterated announcements made earlier in the year. Further, EMC reiterated its emphasis on flash, with EMC explaining that XtremIO, VMAX All Flash, and Unity All Flash all played an important role for the modern datacenter. While XtremIO is well understood as an all flash product, EMC reiterated its announcement of the All Flash VMAX from earlier in the year.

Unity

A lot of time was spent on explaining Unity. Unity is a dual controller design, but is not a derivative of VNX. In fact, much of the inspiration behind Unity came from the lower-end VNXe. Unity is available in one of four configurations: All Flash, Hybrid, Converged and Virtual and at launch each shelf will support 80TB. EMC explained that the hybrid version of Unity will have a starting list price of around US$10,000. All versions are designed to run mixed workloads and by the end of 2016, EMC expects that the capacity per Unity will reach 320TB of TLC NAND flash.

Depending on the capacity required, there will be four configurations. The entry level having support for up to 150 drives, while the largest configuration will support 1,000 drives. Comparing a VNX 5800F with a Unity box, EMC suggested that the Unity box will provide 3x the performance at half the cost. This makes Unity highly competitive against other all flash arrays on the market. Additionally, the Unity box will come native with snapshots, replication, controller based encryption, with compression to come later in the year.

Unity is based on a scale-out design. The demo of the GUI indicated a single click approach to join an additional Unity node. Combined with EMC’s data protection suite and integration with Virtustream’s storage cloud, this will “cloud enable” Unity.

Finally, one of the most glaring changes in the way Unity was designed is the user interface. The GUI was not only practical, but also very easy to use. Neuralytix research shows that VNX customers had not been happy with the Unisphere management platform. In our conversation with a customer who beta tested Unity, the customer felt that the capabilities and ease of use are far superior that previous EMC midrange products.

Copy Data Management

EMC’s new enterprise copy data management product (eCDM) was also highlighted during today’s drill-down. eCDM was able to discover the number of redundant copies of primary, backup and archived data. Using its analytics, and customer parameters, eCDM was able to recommend to customers an ideal number of copies. Customers could also define different service levels – Gold, Silver, and Bronze in terms of the criticality, and sensitivity they have to redundant data.

MyService360

EMC provided a deeper dive into MyService360 features and functionality. One of the aspects that Neuralytix believed would be a strong selling point for the service was the intuitive interface. After participating in a demo this proved to be true. Drilling into greater detail on service requests, health checks, and other aspects of the infrastructure proved to be simple. Further the graphics and “look and feel” of the product was very polished. While this may seem trivial, Neuralytix believes that it is not. The main reason for this is the ability for a variety of personnel in the organization to use the tool. Throughout the IT industry there is an evolving trend to use analytic tools that are connected to live data for senior management presentations rather than capturing data, moving into a general purpose analysis and visualization tool like Excel and then creating slides. This process generally consumes considerable time and resources and results in the presentation of old data. By using analytic tools like MyService360 or SAP HANA, executives alleviate that problem. Further, using live data allows real time investigations into the infrastructure. While Neuralytix does not believe that MyService360 will be used for the same type of board level presentations that review financial performance or sales data, the presentation capabilities will still be very valuable to customers.

While this is all positive, in several customer interviews and discussion there was one concern that was raised; the data integrity. In some cases, EMC will need to clean some of the installed base data currently maintained by both customers and EMC. While this is not a massive challenge, for the tool to be as useful as it could be, the underlying data need to be accurate.

Customer reaction

In addition to the presentations from EMC, Neuralytix was able to talk to several customers in the event. Most of the reaction was positive and customers called out EMC as a leader in support and management services, product reliability, and performance. However, there was one criticism, specifically, that the recent product announcements were causing some confusion. Several of the products were blurring the lines between product categories. So while in the past, there were more clear distinctions which made the product selection process for the customers easier. Now, the choices are close enough that determining which product is right for which application has become more confusing. Neuralytix believes that this is not a significant problem but it will require that EMC spend time educating the sales representative and the customers to ensure that customers are selecting the right architecture for their needs.

 

Ben Woo contributed to this Insight.