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EMC pushes for multiple Flash locations in datacentre hardware

Jennifer Scott

While companies argue over the right location for Flash technology in datacentre hardware, EMC is hedging its bets by having Flash across the board.

The company’s head of unified storage, Rich Napolitano, believes this the right approach, compared with the likes of FusionIO, which pushes for one location over all others.

“The reason we have it right is we have Flash in all the places and we cover all the bases,” he told Computer Weekly at EMC’s annual conference in Las Vegas this week.

“Flash will live in multiple places as there is no one solution to fit all. You need multiple tools in the tool box to solve the most complicated problems.”

EMC began putting flash into storage arrays with solid state drives (SSDs) in 2008. However, it announced Project Lightning at last year’s EMC World to put Flash onto PCIe cards, plugging directly into the server – a technique led by FusionIO – and, in February, the cards launched under the name of VFCache.

Now EMC is working on Project Thunder, creating a pool of Flash which multiple servers can connect to over Infiniband networks, enabling them to use the extra power of multiple PCIe cards from one appliance.

Earlier this month EMC announced the acquisition of XtremIO for $430m, despite the Israeli firm not having shipped a functioning product yet.

“The bottom line is flash will live inside, attached, in a SAN and a hybrid array,” added Napolitano. “We have all the bases covered.”

XtremIO and FusionIO are not the only start-ups developing for Flash, but the executive brushed off the idea of facing competition from any of them.

“None of these companies has any products at the moment and frankly it will be a long time until they do,” said Napolitano.

“I do believe it is important to have competitors as it keeps us sharp, but it takes a long time to make these products work. They have great claims, but we know how long it takes; not two to three years, more like five, six or seven years.”

“We have the tech weapons to cover all these use cases,” he concluded.

The statements came as EMC unveiled new storage products, including additions to its VMAX and VNX solutions, featuring MLC Flash technology.

VMAX comes in three varieties, 10K, 20K or 40K, with the latter featuring flash technology. These large storage arrays pack a punch with between 1TB and 4TB of virtualised storage capacity, throughput of 52Gbps and up to 3,200 disk drives.

The VNXe 3150 storage system supports 2.5 inch drives, as well as SSDs, and claims to up performance and capacity by 50% for entry level customers, costing less than $10,000.


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