EMC looks to expand channel footprint with VMAX 3.0 launch

EMC says its upcoming VMAX 3.0 launch will push the product further into the midmarket and expand the breadth and depth of partner access to the platform.

Fidelma Russo, senior vice president of EMC’s VMAX product business unit

Fidelma Russo, senior vice president of EMC’s VMAX product business unit

EMC’s high-end storage arrays are going to get a little closer to the channel community with the version 3.0 launch of its VMAX family, announced at a massive press event last week in London.

With the 3.0 launch of the VMAX platform, the company’s dropping the price for its entry level configuration, now the 100K. At the same time, it’s making it easier to install and manage for both customers and partners, a trio of moves company executives say they expect to result in more channel partners selling more of the VMAX product line. Fidelma Russo, senior vice president of EMC’s VMAX product business unit, said the company sees “the channel broadening” for the VMAX family of storage products.

“[Our partners] have great capabilities across the board, and this is a way for us to get into the high of the mid-tier,” Russo said.

Russo said the company already has “a very robust channel” about the current low-end VMAX family member, the 10K, but that with the lower price point and new capabilities in the 100K, the company thinks “we have the ability to engage the channel even more.”

The move downmarket for VMAX comes after an internal reorganization at EMC late last year that saw VMAX and its lower-end counterpart, the VNX, brought under the same management and development teams. As a result, partners are getting increased access to training and sales programs across both platforms, the company says.

Along with a lower price point, the new VMAX family members introduce some new capabilities, and in term, some new services, said Colin Bailey, senior director of product management at EMC. Chief among them is the capability of the new HyperMax storage operating system to run certain applications natively on the storage array. If the VMAX’s Dynamic Virtual Matrix is the heart and soul of the VMAX family, then HyperMax is now the brain, he said, and said partners would be able to introduce new services provisioning storage-heavy applications directly on the storage device. Initially, that will include EMC’s own tools – FAST for tiering, and by the end of the year, the file-based storage capabilities brought to market with VMAX’s little cousin, VNX. The real power of that will come when EMC opens up the ability to run apps on the storage to its customers and partners, Bailey said.

“They’ll come up with use cases that we haven’t,” he said. “I’m not saying you’re going to run your Oracle directly on the VMAX, but lot of data services will be better off embedded in the VMAX itself.”

Also at the London event, the company announced that it has purchased privately-held TwinStrata, which makes software that connects in-house storage with cloud storage. TwinStrata has been very aggressive in its own channel program and brings with it a base of partners, some of which will inevitably be new to EMC. It’s too early to tell exactly how the channels will be integrated, but one of EMC’s design points in its newly-launched channel program is to create a framework that channel programs from new acquisitions can fit into.

As for products, Russo said EMC will continue to sell TwinStrata’s software, which allows data to flow back and forth between enterprise storage and public cloud storage, and will also “blend it into the EMC portfolio.”

“Expect to see something fairly soon,” Russo said.