EMC VNXe 3200 - Massive Value for Chicagoland SMBs

The EMC VNXe 3200 was released in April 2014 is providing massive value to SMBs in Chicagoland and beyond. Its predecessor is the VNXe 3300 (yes, the newer edition actually has a lower model number). It has many of the same features available in its big brother, the VNX 5200, with a reduced price point. 

 

 

 

EMC VNXe 3200 Benefits

  • Specifically designed by EMC to be simple to order, setup and maintain. This translates to less risk, time and labor costs surrounding the management of storage.
  • Flexible software options such as concurrent use of file and block storage protocols, storage tiers (FAST VP) and a global SSD cache (FAST Cache).
  • (7) pre-configured bundles to maximize total GBs and IOPS bang for the buck.
  • Many great features are included in the base bundle, and advanced features are available separately to give customers the option to out and save.
  • Support is easy with a chat feature available within the management console. Additional drives can be purchased from here as well.
  • The combination of using CIFS (SMBv3), thin provisioning and caching provides the best of both worlds between reduced capacity and maximum performance.
  • Only (2) SSDs are needed to provide a major performance improvement with FAST Cache (and happens to be the maximum allowed).
  • Designed for 99.999% availability (5.26 minutes of expected downtime per year) with robust hardware redundancy. To put this in context, Amazon's IaaS offering of EC2 and EBS (virtual servers and storage) have a target monthly availability of 99.95% (4.38 hours of expected downtime per year).

Tech Spec Highlights

  • Redundant controllers come standard on the EMC VNXe 3200. Below is a picture of the back.

VNXe2

  • 8 Gb Fibre Channel Flex IO modules available (not standard)
  • 10GBase-T ports (RJ-45) available on-board (no SFP+)
  • Max block LUN size of 16 TB (VNXe 3300 max was 2 TB).
  • Greatly improved performance analysis features (the VNXe 3300 was extremely limited).
  • The FAST Cache (SSDs) is global, supports all volumes and LUNs and caches reads and writes.
  • Max of 50 drives now and EMC suggests support of 200 total later.
  • Typical supported protocols: SMB3 (CIFS), NFS, iSCSI, and Fibre Channel
  • Either 25-disk or 12-disk options as available as the base (DPE) or as additional shelf(s) (DAE). The 25-disk version is shown below.

VNXe3

  • Using high capacity disks (support for 4 TB NL-SAS) requires use of the 12-disk unit which also supports SAS and SDD drives.
  • The FAST Suite requires an additional license which includes software features to enable the global SSD cache (FAST cache) and tiering (FAST VP).
  • Leverages the same MCx feature built into the VNX line which allows for far better utilization of storage processors with intelligent multi-threading as well as reduces chunk size for both features of the FAST Suite.

VNXe4

  • Adaptive SP cache re-balancing dynamically modifies the allocation of read and write cache. The write cache also organized random writes to be more sequential to reduce IO on the underlying disk.
  • Capacity used for snapshots is now part of the volume, pool or LUN, supports 256 snaps and has flexible retention settings.

Limitations and Notes

  • There is no SFP+ support for 10 Gig Ethernet (Twinax cables, etc.) on the EMC VNXe 3200. In my opinion, this is the only significant limitation with this product and is a bit of a surprise. 10GBase-T has not taken off yet in the market. FYI, these ports auto-negotiate to 1 Gig.

VNXe5

  • No block-level dedupe.
  • Storage-based replications are supposedly coming by the end of 2014. This may not be seen as an issue as leveraging VM-based replication instead can often provide more flexibility and benefits.
  • If you plan on leveraging the Server 2012 R2 dedupe feature for a traditional Windows file server, this may negate the value of the native file-level dedupe of this SAN. Using this approach with fully provisioned block storage can be a cleaner setup.

Requirements Gathering and Cloud Strategy

In addition to the EMC VNXe 3200, there are also many other great and viable storage products on the market from other vendors. The biggest risk Equilibrium has seen regarding our Chicago-based customers' storage does not lie within the selection process, but rather within the requirements gathering phase. In order to have a successful implementation and maximum long term ROI, the performance and capacity requirements of the environment's applications (and VMs, etc.) must be gathered first. This must then be analyzed along with the company's general IT strategy and other projections. This can be done quickly and effectively. Equilibrium has seen both major successes and failures hinge on quality of the requirements gathering phase. IT leaders should also consider their cloud strategy which may reduce the requirement of on-premises storage capacity and performance.

For example, migrating email from Exchange on-premises to Office 365 may make a major difference in capacity requirements for an SMB. The difference may be so great that the customer can downgrade to a less expensive model with a given vendor and save significantly. We have seen this happen often as a result of many types of cloud migration initiatives throughout Chicago. Also consider that competition between IaaS providers such as Amazon and Azure continues to intensify which means prices will continue to drop for cloud storage.

VNXe5  

To wrap this up, the EMC VNXe 3200 will be sure to see heavy adoption for SMBs due to its impressive features, power and flexibility. After offloading apps to cloud services, companies may be able to reduce their private storage footprint. Be sure to engage a professional for a right-sized analysis of storage requirements before investing in your next private storage device. Have a question for Todd? Email us at .

Author: Todd Bey

Miscellaneous Notes

  • EMC encourages end users to assess sample configurations and costs in the VNXe store which is here. Click "Configure & Quote" on the left.
  • Chad Sakac, SVP Global Systems Engineering @ EMC, has a great blog post comparing the architectures of the EMC VNXe 3200 and the VNX 5200 here.
  • A third-party report created by the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) is here.

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