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Introduction

Despite the overwhelming interest in the Dell EMC merger at this year’s EMC World 2016, EMC managed to release a significant number of products.

Each product was anchored by the four pillars that EMC believes will form the foundation of “The Modern Data Center.” (see Figure 1).EMC World The Modern Data Center

Figure 1: The Modern Data Center (EMC 2016)

In Neuralytix’s opinion, the four pillars align precisely with our view of the Datacenter of the Future.

Flash: Neuralytix believes that organizations are moving towards the All Flash Data Center (AFDC). In our Insight “The Reality of the All Flash Datacenter (AFDC)”, (Neuralytix, May 2016), we estimate that by 2020, “30% of all “greenfield” (as yet unimplemented projects) will adopt AFDC, while existing infrastructure will lag behind, but not by much – our estimate is 25% of all full storage refresh will result in the AFDC.”

Cloud Enabled: There is no question that the Cloud is having a tremendous impact on the datacenter. From Infrastructure- to Platform- to Software-as-a-Service (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), the economics, elasticity, and flexibility of the Cloud is going to impact the way IT is conducted.

EMC has cleverly integrated cloud enablement in all its new solutions such that traditional IT organizations can leverage the benefit of the cloud, while still balancing an on-premise datacenter. EMC has also enabled customers to seamlessly move between the two through a number of technologies and products it introduced at EMC World 2016.

Scale Out: Scalability, in particular scale out, has been one of the key principles that Neuralytix has been emphasizing throughout 2016, along with predictability of outcome, and repeatability of process.

EMC recognizes that customers must be able to expand/scale in a cloud-like fashion, and as such, scale-out provides the necessary predictability of performance, with the benefit of repeatability of deployment and management through a “single pane of glass.”

Software Defined: By moving towards a software defined approach for its products, EMC can move quickly to address the fast changing demands of business, while providing customers with the seamless updates and upgrades that cloud offers.

In June, 2016, Neuralytix will be releasing our Insight “A Buyer’s Guide to Software-Defined Storage (SDS): Establishing a Sustainable Data Strategy” (Neuralytix, May 2016) that parallels EMC’s thinking with respects to software defined storage (SDS).

The Products

Neuralytix recognizes seven number of new and improved products announced at EMC World 2016:

  • Unity;
  • EMC Enterprise Copy Data Management (eCDM);
  • ViPR 3.0 Controller;
  • Virtustream Storage Cloud;
  • MyService360;
  • Data Lake and Open Source; and
  • Software Defined and Native Hybrid Cloud.

Unity

Perhaps the most significant product announcement was Unity. Unity is a midrange 2U dual controller array that comes in all flash, hybrid, virtual, or converged (through VCE) configurations.

While dual controller storage products are not new to EMC, the price point that EMC has chosen is. A hybrid Unity solution will have a starting list price of under US$10,000 (street price); and an all flash Unity solution will have a starting list price of just under US$20,000.

EMC compared an all flash Unity with an all flash VNX5800F, its flagship all flash VNX array. The outcome was surprising (in a positive way). The Unity provides three times (3x) the performance at half the cost of the VNX5800F.

Clearly, EMC is taking on the start-ups that have been nipping at EMC’s heels for several years. While Neuralytix does not believe that Unity will replace the current VNX family, we believe that over time, Unity will be the mid-range of choice for EMC customers over the next several years.

Consistent with all the four pillars, Unity is flash capable, cloud enabled, and offers software-defined storage. Each Unity node can have 25 drives, and can support a maximum of 1,000 drives, providing over 3PB of storage. What impressed Neuralytix the most, was the single click to join additional Unity disk shelves to the cluster.

To make it cloud enabled – Unity leverages Virtustream Storage Cloud (see below) to extend capacity and capabilities into the Cloud.

Unlike the VMAX, XtremIO, and VNX, EMC was very clear to state that Unity will be a volume product. This makes the product extremely channel friendly. Unity comes complete with native snapshots, replication, built in controller-based encryption and will offer compression in a later release expected in the second half of 2016.

In a conversation with a Unity beta tester, the customer expressed that the capabilities and ease of use of Unity is far superior to any of the other EMC products he has used in the past.

Without a doubt, Unity is the most impressive product launch for EMC in recent history. It not only addressed the needs of the modern datacenter, but it also addresses the channel, simplification of use, and price competitiveness.

A conundrum for the new Dell EMC

Unity brings yet another storage platform for EMC. Neuralytix defines an EMC storage platform as one having a unique codebase for the product. Here is a list of the codebases/products Neuralytix has identified:

  1. VMAX3
  2. XtremIO
  3. VNX
  4. VNXe
  5. Unity
  6. Isilon
  7. Data Domain
  8. ECS
  9. DSSD D5
  10. VSS
  11. ScaleIO (although one could argue this is purely an SDS product)

Add to this, Dell’s portfolio of storage products

  1. Dell PS (EqualLogic)
  2. Dell SC (Compellent)
  3. Dell PowerVault MD3
  4. Dell NX (NAS)

and it is clear that some level of product consolidation must happen. While some products do not overlap, at least in the midrange where there is – VNX, VNXe, Unity, Dell PS, Dell SC, Dell PowerVault MD3, and Dell NX, there are seven platforms competing for the same space. Multiple platforms have to retire.

Neuralytix believes that the new Dell EMC would be best served to retire the VNXe, Dell PS, Dell SC and the Dell NX. This will leave VNX and Unity as the primary solution for the midrange storage space.

That said, this does not mean an immediate cessation of sales of the listed products, but that the new Dell EMC sales team should focus on VNX and Unity in the midrange, and continue support for the other platforms and slowly evolving customers to VNX and Unity.

EMC Enterprise Copy Data Management (eCDM)

EMC’s enterprise copy data management is a new product. It has capabilities from managing secondary, or backup data, to keeping track of primary copies to optimize the number of copies of data that is kept by customers. This way, customers can align their business objectives to meet corporate and regulatory compliance.

In general, customers keep too many copies of data. From countless number of backups (either on tape or on disk), to numerous copies of snapshots and replicas.

eCDM’s capabilities will provide significant savings to customers, some of whom are keeping hundreds of copies of data for no specific purpose other than that it aligns with very traditional (read: archaic) approaches to data protection.

What eCDM is able to do is to discover copies of primary, backup and archived data. Using its analytics, and customer parameters, eCDM will be able to recommend to customers ways to optimize their environment. Customers can also define different service levels – for example Gold, Silver, and Bronze – in terms of the criticality, and sensitivity they have to redundant data.

With eCDM, customers can ensure that there are not too many copies, as mentioned above, which can then allow customers to reclaim some of the capacity otherwise used for redundant copies; and that the necessary copies are distributed between primary and protection storage as well as around multiple datacenters for redundancy.

eCDM is highly visual and enables customers to see quickly, the number of point in time (PIT) copies, and apply custom defined service plans. eCDM also interfaces with ProtectPoint such that once the desired service level is selected, both the primary storage, and the protection storage (namely, Data Domain) can ensure that SLOs are being met by creating a copy directly from primary storage to Data Domain.

Copy data management is more than data reduction. It is also about having the right number of copies of data in the right place to address the criticality and SLA required for a datacenter site, or application. eCDM provides a visual flow of data copy management that is unique in the market today.

In Q3, 2016, EMC Enterprise Copy Data Analytics provides a single view around the globe for a company/organization’s copy data. A status is then generated for the entire organization, a particular site, and also see how many of the customer’s clients are within the SLAs defined, and how many are not. The visual depiction is not only in real time, but can be used in executive level reviews, and for audit and governance.

eCDM is consistent with the software-defined, and cloud enabled pillars that EMC has articulated as their view of the Modern Datacenter.

MyService360

A full analysis of MyService360 entitled “EMC World 2016 – MyService360 A Simplified Approach to Customer Support & Service” (Neuralytix, May 2016)ViPR 3.0 Controller and CoprHD

While it may seem incremental, the ability for third-party arrays to be supported through the new ViPR software development kit (SDK) is a major step for ViPR. This functionality has been sorely missing, and now ViPR is able to take full advantage of the capabilities of third-party arrays rather than reducing costly existing investments into basic storage capacity, as opposed to the high functionality storage systems they were designed to be.

Neuralytix believes that broader support of third-party storage arrays better reflects the ideals of what SDS is designed to do.

ViPR 3.0 also addresses a major concern customers had with ViPR, which was that prior to version 3.0, ViPR could be a single point of failure. Now, ViPR can be failed over to up to two standby sites.

Additionally, ViPR now has much deeper integration with Isilon. With ViPR 3.0, it is able to do file system replication on Isilon, as well as snapshot scheduling.

Automation is the key to predictable outcomes, and the integration of these features, is highly welcomed.

The open source version of ViPR, CoprHD has had a major impact on ViPR’s development. Many of the new features and functions of ViPR 3.0 came from contributors to the CoprHD community.

ViPR and CoprHD combined reinforces the software-defined and scale-out pillars of the EMC Modern Datacenter. It also demonstrates EMC’s commitment to open-source (see below).

Neuralytix believes ViPR will continue to be a leading SDS platform. It does however, need to come out from the shadows. Compared to other EMC products, ViPR does not have the same competitive presence against its rivals such as Nutanix, or SimpliVity, and Neuralytix believes this is hampering ViPR’s ability to reach out to non-installed base customers.

Another conundrum for Dell EMC

At day one of the merger, Dell EMC will be selling three competing solutions in the SDS space – ViPR, a Dell/Nutanix solution, and a Dell/Nexenta solution.

Neuralytix research shows that there is currently no intention to change this situation, instead, EMC is couching this as bringing “choice” to the customer.

Neuralytix’s concern is less about the customer, and more about the sales team who have to go out and sell these solutions.

We advise that clear definition be given to the sales teams from day one so that there is little confusion, and that the customer’s needs are properly addressed by the appropriate product.

Virtustream Storage Cloud

As cloud enablement is a key pillar to EMC’s vision of the Modern Datacenter, EMC announced Virtustream Storage Cloud, a hyperscale object store, built using its Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS).

Essentially, ECS will be hosted by Virtustream. This will allow customers to backup and archive to an enterprise grade public cloud.

Products including Data Domain, NetWorker, Unity, VMAX and XtremIO can now seamlessly tier to Virtustream Storage Cloud. The Virtustream Storage Cloud offers EMC customers an end-to-end cloud experience with integrated provisioning, management, billing, and support and is not meant to compete against third-party offerings from Amazon, Google or Azure.

Virtustream has had a long history of providing Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) for critical enterprise applications such as SAP. With Virtustream Storage Cloud, Virtustream takes its expertise with building IaaS, and presents a storage platform with through the use of EMC ECS.

Neuralytix believes that Virtustream Storage Cloud will be very competitively priced, and with EMC’s reputation behind it, Neuralytix further believes that it will be a successful offering from EMC.

Native Hybrid Cloud

Finally, EMC announced its Native Hybrid Cloud. Leveraging VxRACK, it combines open source, software defined and cloud enablement into a single VxRACK node named Neutrino. Neutrino will enable customers to load a preconfigured, pretested OpenStack environment that EMC has curated, and where EMC will continue to optimize, test and configure the distribution, and include ScaleIO software defined storage capabilities into a developer ready Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

At launch, the VxRACK can only be populated with one type of node, although Neuralytix expects this to change in the next 12 to 18 months.

Additionally, the Neutrino node can also be configured with Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) to provide a fully tested and warrantied Platform as a Service (PaaS).

This will accelerate application development and provide a PaaS solution that is fully curated by a single vendor.

Cloud enabling VxRACK

Neutrino nodes with PCF can also extend its capabilities in the Cloud.

Virtustream will also be offering the ability for customers to deploy PCF in the cloud. What this means is that developers can develop on-premise, and deploy in the cloud seamlessly.

This gives developers the ability to write code that can span seamlessly between on-premise and in-cloud.Summary

EMC announced some very exciting upgrades and new solutions at EMC World 2016. Many of these products will be complementary to Dell’s current offerings.

EMC’s view of the Modern Datacenter is spot on. Neuralytix would suggest adding the word “converged” somewhere would round out the idea.

Overall, Neuralytix believes that the product announcements made at EMC World 2016 represents significant strides by EMC (in light of its merger with Dell), to address price competitiveness; and the demands of customers who understand that hybrid clouds are likely to be the most appropriate cloud deployment for them.

While Neuralytix predicts that solutions such as Unity will gain immediate success, other announcements may take a little longer to gain traction. This is not a reflection of the quality of the solution, but that customers need to mature in their acceptance and understanding of progressive solutions such as PCF and others.

Related Research

EMC World 2016 – Day 1 Review (Neuralytix, May 2016)

EMC World 2016 – Day 2 Review (Neuralytix, May 2016)

EMC World 2016 – Day 3 Review (Neuralytix, May 2016)

EMC MyService360 – A Simplified Approach to Customer Support & Service (Neuralytix, May 2016)

Dell EMC: Better Together? (Neuralytix, June 2016)

Dell EMC: Channeling Success (Neuralytix, June 2016)