LAS VEGAS: It’s deja vu all over again, with EMC doing another pre-emptive strike on this week’s EMC World, the 2014 edition of its annual customer event. Typically that’s left to the competition, like HP, which last week graciously offered online support for customers with ‘old’ EMC VNX and CLARiiON CX4 arrays seeking to jump ship to 3PAR StoreServ Storage.
Just like it did last year, EMC made a couple of announcements days prior to this week’s event: entry-level VNXe; Data-At-Rest encryption for VNX; new VSPEX reference architectures; a sneak peek at Project Libery, the software-defined VNX; and Disk Library for mainframe V4.1.
Announced on the 30th, the VNX-related announcement highlights included:
-Project Liberty previews future virtualized storage software based on VNX that leverages the functionality and user experience of VNX, while delivering the ability to deploy applications with cloud-like agility in a software-defined data center; and,
-Data-At-Rest-Encryption – EMC D@RE – to the VNX Series, provides the capability to encrypt data written to disk and eliminate data access from unauthorized drive removal.
Two days earlier EMC announced enhancements to its DLm offering, including: simplification of D/R testing for EMC VNX based DLms; single drive performance improvements; deeper operational insights; and IPv6 compliance. Mainframe data exists at the core of almost every critical financial transaction in the world, and mainframe data protection is a critical part of the “data protection continuum,” blogged Paul O’Connor, Director of Product Management, EMC Data Protection & Availability Division at EMC.
In addition to its own pre-emptive strike, HP is also doing a little ‘guerilla marketing’, hosting the “72 Hours of Yes” event in Las Vegas during EMC World. “HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage delivers features not available on EMC VNX and now we’re removing the data migration roadblock to enable affordable tier-1 storage for trapped EMC customers,” said David Scott, SVP and GM, HP Storage, in a prepared statement.
EMC has disputed HP’s claims that migrating to its VNX2 storage arrays is complicated. “In fact, for the first time, with VNX2, we now offer simplified, automated, and in many cases, online migrations to the new VNX Series (VNX2) from CLARiiON, Celerra and VNX1,” responded Jonathan Siegal, EMC’s senior director of VNX product marketing. “Thousands of our VNX2 customers have already taken advantage of the improved migration options and tools — utilizing Virtual Data Movers, VPLEX, and PowerPath Migration Enabler to name a few.”
Towards the end of April EMC discussed its Q1 results, reporting revenues $80 million above the forecast of $5.4 billion, and one-cent higher EPS of $0.35. For the year the company reaffirmed its 2014 guidance of $24.6 billion in revenue, $1.90 per share of non-GAAP EPS and $5.8 billion of free cash flow.
Chairman and CEO Joe Tucci said the industry is now going through a major transformation, a secular shift from the client/server PC era of computing to a mobile cloud big data social networking era, the so-called third platform of IT. In addition to “disruptive headwinds, as well as new opportunities that are absolutely massive”, there is also a global market which is exhibiting an air of caution in spending resulting from an array of economic and political uncertainties around the world.
EMC scored pretty solid reviews for last year’s event. “As we saw at EMC World 2013, the company is attacking the problem and enabling change through both an attack on the next big thing (Pivotal), which is a revolutionary, and dealing more effectively in the storage management world (ViPR), which is evolutionary,” wrote analyst David Hill, Mesabi Group.
EMC World was a collection of best practices this year and one of the best events he has ever attended, noted Rob Enderle, Enderle Group. “EMC‘s team does a better job than most in terms of connecting the analysts and company executives at multiple layers.:
Wayne Pauley, who was a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, apparently liked it so much, he ended up as Director, OEM and Alliances Solutions GTM at its VMware subsiduary. “EMC World was full of great energy, massive numbers of customers, and a great vision from EMCs executive ranks.”
Ben Woo, Managing Director, Neuralytix, didn’t jump ship, but he wrote that EMC is heading in the right direction, and has the right people, processes and technologies to extend its leadership into markets outside of traditional storage systems. “Over the last several years, EMC has evolved from its traditional roots as the storage company to a vendor that has essentially transformed the whole server community by commoditizing it (through VMware). EMC is now in a position to offer a complete information stack, from infrastructure to middleware and application development, while differentiating itself from competitors like Oracle by offering choice throughout the stack.”
EMC is so firmly established in various traditional market leadership positions that it can set its vision toward and beyond the horizon, said analyst Charles King, Pund-IT. “EMC has found a way to succeed via what the company‘s Chairman and CEO, Joe Tucci, calls a federation of highly focused, strategically-aligned organizations, including EMC, VMware, RSA and, now, Pivotal.”
King also offered his thoughts on this week’s event, including EMC’s evolution to the Third Platform of computing. “You could say that EMC has been preparing for the Third Platform for over a decade.”
The acquisition of VMware a decade ago allowed EMC to expand its sights far beyond its traditional data storage roots and also qualified as the opening salvo in what would eventually become a revolution in cloud computing. “VMware’s continuing strong virtualization leadership (despite opposition from formidable opponents, including Microsoft and Citrix) has also allowed EMC to maintain a central role in cloud and other Third Platform markets, like software-defined data center (SDDC) solutions.
After VMware, which drove over $5 billion in revenues during the past 12 months, EMC essentially transformed itself through “innovative external purchases and organic development”, including Avamar, Data Domain, Isilon, RSA, Greenplum, XtremeIO, and Pivotal Labs. King said the critical importance of these moves was clear in EMC’s recent earnings announcement.
Year over year (YoY) Q1 revenues from EMC’s Information Infrastructure (EMCii) organization, including traditional storage platforms declined 3% but some areas fared better, like dedicated back-up and recovery solutions and its emerging storage solutions, which include Isilon, Atmos, VPLEX, ViPR, XtremIO and other products which grew at 81%. Third Platform and SDDC-related technologies also performed well: YoY revenues from Pivotal grew 41% and VMware rose 16%.
The bottom line, said King, is that it is “difficult to think of a vendor better positioned or suited to shoulder through existing barriers and capture potential opportunities than EMC. Along with continuing to grow share in traditional storage hardware and software markets, the company’s strategy of tempering external acquisitions with continuing internal investment has resulted in an innovative collection of technologies, solutions, services and partnerships that has and should continue to benefit both existing and potential customers.”
The Fiddly Bits (& Bytes)
New products and capabilities to the EMC VNX family of hybrid storage solutions includes the entry-level VNXe3200 storage array that is 3X more efficient than previous VNXe solutions, and is powered by MCx (Multicore optimization) and FAST (Fully-Automated Storage Tiering) software. It supports major unified protocols – including Fibre Channel, and is also available in new VSPEX Proven Infrastructures, which delivers up to 125 virtual machines and 500 virtual desktops in a VNXe3200. These new VSPEX solutions can store up to 2,000 Exchange mailboxes and over 20,000 SharePoint users.
‘Project Liberty’virtualized storage software is based on the VNX family, offered in a variety of flexible deployment models, whether on a virtual server or in a hybrid cloud for example, to meet varied and changing workloads and service levels. With Project Liberty, customers will benefit from the agility and efficiency of a hybrid cloud.
VNX Data-At-Rest-Encryption (D@RE) is expected to be available on the new VNX Series as a non-disruptive software upgrade in the third quarter of 2014. Using controller-based encryption, which provides the flexibility to support any drive type, speed and capacity, it is designed to help customers protect data written to disk to eliminate data access from unauthorized drive removal.
Disk Library for mainframe (Dlm) V4.1 enhancements include: simplification of D/R testing for EMC VNX based DLms; single drive performance improvements; deeper operational insights; and IPv6 compliance. Effective mainframe data protection must be optimized around four use cases for best-in-class ROI: 1) Backup / Restore 2) Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) 3) Long Term Data Retention and 4) “General Work Tapes.” DLm was specifically designed for these cases.
HP 3PAR Online Import user-directed migration utility allows upgrades from legacy EMC VNX and CLARiiON CX4 arrays to HP 3PAR StoreServ Storage without requiring the use of host resources, specialized host software or additional hardware appliances. By using federated storage innovations and eliminating reliance on host resources, data migration with 3PAR Online Import is less disruptive to applications and can performed faster than other methods.
HP said the latest generation of VNX arrays—or VNX2—use an operating system that is not supported on earlier VNX models, so the upgrade path from a first-generation VNX array to VNX2 requires a full data migration, 40-80% more commands than upgrading to StoreServ, and involves either data migration tools that consume host resources and impact application performance or necessitates the use of costly additional hardware appliances.
DISCLAIMER: I’m down here courtesy of EMC, and both EMC and VMware are in my investment portfolio. So while I’ll remain impartial from an editorial perspective, from a shareholder perspective, feel free to buy lots and lots of their products and services. Whatever you do, don’t listen to HP… oh wait, I own their shares too. Whoops.