Mid-Market Storage Wars

Posted by Mark Rabin

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10/28/13 2:09 PM

IBM V5000 vs. EMC VNX2… the TamGroup Perspective

September and October 2013 have seen major announcements from EMC and IBM respectively in the mid-market storage space. Where IBM has announced major extensions to their industry-leading technology of Storwize family products, EMC announced a warmed-over refresh of their VNX series, the VNX2.

The new IBM V5000 provides a mid-market Storwize platform for customers looking for a more cost-effective SAN than the V7000. The V5000 utilizes the same virtualized storage platform that is the hallmark of the IBM Storwize family but only supports a maximum of 168 drives per controller/336 per cluster.  With standard support for 1GB/10 Gb iSCSI, 6Gb SAS, 8GB FC and 10Gb FCoE, it provides flexible connectivity for most environments in a small 2U rack footprint.  The V5000 can virtualize and seamlessly migrate storage from other SAN platforms making transitions from competitive products easy and cost effective.  The inclusion of SANSlide compression over TCP/IP in the optional remote replication feature means DR implementations will use less bandwidth than ever before.

Existing IBM Storwize V7000 customers (plus IBM Storwize V5000 and IBM XIV) will benefit from significant enhancements to the Storwize SAN operating system.

  • Next generation software defined storage platform – Only IBM has a proven and mature Software Defined Storage environment that has been commercially available for more than 7 years
  • IP replication with integrated Bridgeworks SANSlide network optimization – Reduces the cost of ownership for disaster recovery environments with up to 3x better network utilization than conventional SAN replication
  • Real-time Compression enhancements – Improved disk compression performance for all environments with up to 3x better throughput for VMware vMotion and 35% reduced CPU utilization
  • IBM Storage Mobile Dashboard – Now you can use your mobile device to monitor the Storwize family of systems
  • VMware 5.5 and VASA block support - Maintaining currency with latest VMware capabilities and allowing Storwize platforms to be a provider for the vSphere API for Storage Awareness
  • SAS data migration – Non-disruptive migration from existing
  • SAS storage to Storwize V3700 and V5000 

All of the above enhancements are planned to become available on November 29, 2013 and are no charge upgrades to existing licensed customers of the Storwize V7000.  This is a clear indication of IBM’s commitment to providing customer value and to Software Defined Storage.  In early December a new 800GB Solid State Disk drive (SSD) will also be made available for lower cost, higher density, high-performance storage.

On the other side of the battlefield, the EMC VNX2 is a forklift replacement of the older VNX product line. A forklift upgrade also means that any claims of Software Defined Storage don’t hold much value. EMC says they rewrote the SAN operating system to leverage multi-core processor technology.  IBM has been using multi-core technology for years.   Ultimately the number of cores doesn’t really matter as much as how efficiently the cores are used. 

In practice we have seen that the IBM V7000 is only using a small fraction of the multi-core processor due to its optimized architecture.  In the latest IBM announcement, the Real Time Compression has been optimized to use even less processor than before.  The best part, this comes as a free software upgrade to licensed users, not an extra cost feature.

As with most products real world performance is the best benchmark, and open standard benchmarks provide a point for relative performance comparison.  If EMC would present their VNX2 for a benchmark, then it would become clear how much greater performance the IBM Storwize advanced technology provides with a highly competitive total cost of ownership.  IBM publishes SPC benchmark results to prove the performance of the Storwize platform, there don't seem to be any results for comparable EMC products. See for yourself here.

The IBM V3700, V5000, V7000 and XIV are the clear winners here! Overall they are a superior product family accompanied by great support and valuable additional offerings.

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