New software features highlight new high-end Dell EMC VMAX 950F model

The new high-end VMAX model has the expected new oomph in performance, but most of the channel will be more interested in the new software features, which will also apply to VMAX 250F, a stronger channel play.

The VMAX 950F

LAS VEGAS – Dell made a flurry of storage-related announcements on Monday at its Dell EMC event here. The most significant to the company, if not its channel as a whole, is the announcement of the all-new VMAX 950F All-Flash array.

The VMAX is the modern incarnation of the Symmetrix, EMC’s former flagship storage array, designed for mission-critical apps which can never go down. The name was gradually transitioned as the product, along with the market, moved beyond big iron, and added more virtual and cloud-focused features. The VMAX 950F replaces the 850F as the high end model in the VMAX line. Interestingly, because it scales down cost-effectively, it is also being positioned as a replacement for the VMAX 450F as well, leaving only the VMAX 250F for the entry level of the high-end market.

“The VMAX 950F is the most powerful VMAX ever, with almost 70 per cent more IOPS [6.7 million] than the 850F, said David Goulden, Dell EMC’s President. It has 30 per cent faster response time than the 850F, and takes up 25 per cent less floor space. It is also up to four times faster than nearest competitor in real-world workload testing.” The 950F starts at 53 TB usable capacity, and scales up to 4 PB effective capacity

The VMAX 950F array includes the latest Intel CPUs, but what really sets it apart is a significant number of software enhancements, said Howard Rubin, ‎Senior Consultant Product Marketing Manager, VMAX Enterprise Storage, at Dell EMC.

EMC employed its RecoverPoint continuous data protection technology for over a decade, and it is present in over 30,000 EMC and Dell EMC installations. It allows point-in-time recovery with one minute snap frequency for hetereogeneous replication.

“With the VMAX 950F, it is now available for the first time for VMAX All-Flash,” Rubin said.

Another new feature is External Key Manager Data Encryption.

“Our External (KMIP) Key Manager now supports External Key Manager for third party encryption,” Rubin stated.

Secure Snapshot capability is another security innovation of significance.

“Companies are increasingly worried about malicious attacks that hold data hostage,” Rubin said. “These systems make snapshots of the data for backup and security, but with this new capability, we allow customers to create secure snapshots that can never be deleted. Even an administrator can’t delete it. The system will retain them until they are scheduled to expire.”

ProtectPoint, which allows application owners to control their backups, is not new to VMAX, but it has added some new features.

“We have now added support for Microsoft’s SQL Server and Exchange applications, to give full control over these backups,” Rubin said. “In addition, it now backs up to Data Domain directly, which makes it 20x faster, and 10x faster for recovery.”

Finally, with the VMAX 950F, VMAX non-disruptive migrations have been enhanced.

“It now is fully synchronous for disaster recovery, which effectively allows the customer to have a full DR site,” Rubin said.

For Dell EMC channel partners, the software capabilities are likely the most interesting thing here, because they are OS-based.

“The VMAX 950F is a high-end, high-touch product, and while it is not sold exclusively direct, its channel role is limited to a few select partners,” Rubin said. “The 250F is the real channel go-to-market product for VMAX. And on the software side, everything that you get in a 950F, you get in a 250F.”

VMAX 950F can be ordered this month and will be generally available in June.