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EMC launches Unity flash and hybrid arrays at SME customers

EMC launches Unity, SME-targeted all-flash and hybrid flash arrays built on a Linux OS on commodity hardware with services run from containers

EMC announced a new family of all-flash and hybrid flash storage arrays aimed at small to medium-sized enterprise (SME) customers.

The Unity arrays – announced at EMC World 2016 in Las Vegas – allow file and block access and are compatible with VMware Virtual Volumes (VVOLs).

They are built on commodity hardware, with a new Linux-based EMC controller operating system (OS), and use containers to run storage services such as replication.

Unity arrays come in four models, the 300, 400, 500 and 600 with all-flash products carrying an F suffix. They start at 2U of rack space and hold 150, 250, 350 and 500 drives respectively. Unity arrays deliver up to 300,000 input/output per second (IOPS) and scale from a few tens of TB to 3PB. They provide unified storage, with NAS, Fibre Channel and iSCSI connectivity.

Chris Ratcliffe, EMC marketing vice-president, said Unity has been designed from the ground up to appeal to SME customers, with all-flash arrays starting at a price of $18,000 (£12,300) and hybrid flash arrays from under $10,000 (£6,850).

“XtremIO and VMAX are for well-organised, well built-out IT departments. Unity offers simplicity, performance, density and low cost,” he said.

“They’re built on industry standard components with software services, such as encryption, snapshots and replication, delivered from containers.

“Simplicity is a huge part of the design. You can update the software in a simple manner, with upgrades and additions to storage services possible because they run in containers.”

Read more about flash storage

  • Computer Weekly surveys an all-flash array market in which the big six in storage have largely settled on strategy, but key new technologies – such as TLC flash and 3D Nand – are emerging.
  • Will 2015 be remembered as the last big year of hybrid flash storage? The Big Six offer hybrid flash, mostly based on HDD-era designs, and innovation has slowed as all-flash rises.

Unity is also available as software as a virtual appliance and as part of a VCE Vblock converged offering with Cisco servers and networking hardware.

Unity’s use of triple level cell (TLC) flash raises questions over flash endurance issues, with TLC the least long-lasting of all current flash implementations. This is due to the amount of switching per flash cell that takes place in TLC.

Ratcliffe said EMC had used its understanding of the performance of flash storage gained from a vast volume of data from phone-home reporting on XtremIO and VMAX arrays to mitigate against wear.

“We’ve leveraged a deep understanding of how different workloads affect flash technology. We’ve built that knowledge into software and that can be tweaked as we learn more.”

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