VPLEX: Integrated Simplicity Worth Talking About

EMC VPLEX was the first true active-active storage virtualization product introduced to the industry in May 2010. Since then, cluster installations have surpassed 3000+ as of Q4, 2013 and trending at a clip of 200 installs per week, today Q1 of 2014 that number is rapidly approaching 4,000. VPLEX in its current state whether Local, Metro or Geo and Single, Dual or Quad configurations stands on its own and provides strong load balancing and continuous availability for over 50 different storage platforms qualified today against the EMC Simple Support Matrix. As quoted in the Third-Quarter 2013 Financial Results “greater than 50% year-over-year revenue growth for EMC VPLEX virtual storage” is powerful testimonial that the platform is not only positioned to continue to grow on its existing strengths but by adding to them and enhancing the platform integration with storage systems.

This is all great news. What is even cooler is VPLEX Metro as a Continuous Availability product has hit a field availability of seven 9’s. That is something to talk about. It just gets even better…

VPLEX INTEGRATED ARRAY SERVICES has been launched. VPLEX 5.3 VIAS allows our VPLEX users to be able to smoothly integrate with the storage arrays providing an ease of use management experience that quickly reduces the time it takes customers to access their virtual volumes. It has been very desirable for our install base to be able to seamlessly navigate between VPLEX and arrays without having to provision per array and then complete activity on another interface.

The first step forward to this integrated simplicity is being able to provision EMC VMAX and EMC VNX array families directly from the VPLEX Unisphere UI. The capability to do this will also open up to 3rd party arrays over time but for the majority of EMC customers, being able to simplify provisioning directly from the VPLEX UI will be transformative for the control point perspective of the storage virtualization layer in the customer SAN.

VPLEX users of VPLEX today are cheering in their data centers and doing “happy dances” in their break rooms. (Do people still hang out in break rooms? Just thinking aloud)

Let me break it down a little more dramatically. VPLEX before VIAS looked something like this:


This is Jacob’s ladder in St. Helena. It is the LONGEST staircase in the world measuring at 699 steps and is terrifying. Told you it would be dramatic. In serious comparison however, calculations from our loyal VPLEX install base prior to the enhancements of VPLEX 5.3 and VIAS introduction is that it would take approximately somewhere around 40 steps to configure and provision back-end storage volumes and present them out to hosts as virtual volumes. Why was VPLEX designed without this type of usability in mind? It isn’t that easy. You could actually do the majority of the provisioning with the exception of zoning through the UI; there were just a lot of steps and quite frankly a UI nuisance. Also, architecturally when you have a system and in this case the VPLEX management server that needs to be able to communicate to a plethora of different array types, their CLI constructs and APIs, a lot of thought, planning and correctness has to take place.
Now we have the opposite of Jacob’s ladder. You have the smallest escalator in Kawasaki, Japan.


This is how it feels like to now provision using VIAS. You could literally leap over that escalator. Look at that ridiculous thing. I digress. The user’s experience with VIAS will be a simple (4) step process to eliminate multiple UI screens and pages to get to the end result. These steps are as follows:
1. Select consistency groups and add storage
2. Select VPLEX protection services to apply to the production volume (none, local RAID-1, and distributed mirroring), number of volumes and capacity per volume
3. Select the underlying storage array pools from which to draw storage
4. Expose storage to hosts

Want to see it in action?  Check out the demo!

About the Author: Jennifer Aspesi

Jen Aspesi is Sr. Consultant Solutions Marketing for Dell Technologies Data Protection Division, primary focus on Cloud Solutions, Kubernetes and High Value Workloads. Prior to this role, Jen was Director of Advanced Customer Engineering for several areas of Dell EMC product and field enablement including storage replication, storage virtualization, backup and recovery. Jen has a Masters of Innovative Technology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, MA.
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