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EMC VNX vs Netapp – the clash of the Unified Titans

Ooo Tender!

If you ain’t unified then you can’t come in!  This is what it should have said across the front of the last three storage tenders that I have seen recently.  Quite frankly I agree!  What is the point of progress if things don’t get easier and more automated?  Why would you really want to do unnecessary manual tweeking of a disk system so it is monstrously performant for one application, when software could be used to do that job!

EMC’s new VNX range of storage will no doubt be giving the Netapp chaps a few sleepless nights.  Finally we have an answer to the tender requirement of:

3.4.5.2 –  By the way the storage that you propose must have FC, iSCSI, NFS, CIFS and be able to make a killer omelette.

Ok so the omelette thing didn’t appear but the rest of it is almost word for word ;-)

Up to now nothing has really ticked these boxes from the big storage vendors.  EMC had the Clariion and Celerra, IBM have backed themselves into a bit of a corner.  IBM decided that the unified storage bit will be supplied by the Nseries product range, which is Netapp re-badged.  IBM’s v7000 hasn’t really hit the spot yet, funky GUI, yes, but IP replication reliant on TSM FastBack, and no File protocols so it doesn’t look good up against the VNX and the Netapp.

In these days of FCoE and 10Gb Ethernet, storage over IP for day to day apps like VMWare, smaller DB’s and Mail application can be run from file protocols (I don’t want to get into the performance argument but people are doing it!)

So is unified the way forward?  My opinion is the usual techie  answer of  “depends”.  It is the correct answer for the day to day application for the SMB market, and for point solutions in the large enterprise.  It make the provisioning of storage a whole lot quicker.  I think it is a massive admission for the storage industry that no longer is storage the dark art that it is perceived to be and that real people want to store stuff on some storage that they want to get to in different ways.  Finally EMC have seen the light and rolled the Clariion and Celerra products together!

However…

…there will still be a need for dedicated block level storage systems for the time being so that the transactional systems that require gargantuan amounts of IO can continue.  It just means now that the transactional systems won’t be contending with the smaller apps for IO.

Management Summary:

Unified Storage, Good, go buy some!