EMC only made one major new product launch on the opening day of its annual customer conference in Orlando, Florida, but it kept the pot warm with a number of significant promises for the next few months that include thin provisioning and encryption of data at rest.
The big new product is a giant virtual tape library powered by the same FalconStor-originated VTL software that drive's EMC's current VTL, but with the back-end mid-range Clariion disk storage swapped for a flagship Symmetrix DMX array of up to 1,8 PB capacity, ingesting up to 11 TB per hour of backup data.
The technology promise that is likely to attract the most interest from customers is the pledge to add block level thin provisioning to the Clariion and Symmetrix arrays in the first quarter next year.
Only last week Hitachi launched TP for its TagmaStore disk array, which is a direct rival to the Symmetrix. TP is a way of allocating disk capacity to applications that hugely improves disk usage by eliminating the wastage caused by the need to over-provision applications.
So far the technology has been pioneered by a handful of suppliers such as Network Appliance, 3PARdata and Lefthand NetWorks. Hitachi was the first of the big three suppliers to launch TP, and the feature can only help sales of the company's already competitive TagmaStore flagship disk array, re-branded versions of which are also sold by Sun and HP.
It remains to be seen how far behind Hitachi EMC will be with the technology. Hitachi's TP implementation will not actually be complete for a few months yet, but then EMC might also end up shipping TP in stages, and not all at once in the first quarter next year. IBM has made no comment about when it will add TP to its DS800 arrays.
EMC has also promised to ship some form of encryption of the data at rest on its disk arrays, by integrating RSA's encryption with its PowerPath path management software. Beta testing will begin later this year, and the product will ship in the first quarter, EMC said.
Currently very few disk arrays have native data encryption, and EMC is the first major vendor to promise to deliver it. The alternative is to use a third-party encryption device from suppliers such as NeoScale or NetApp-owned Decru.
On the virtualisation front, EMC said that next month it will begin shipping version 2.0 of its Invista storage virtualisation system. The update will improve the performance and availability of the system, double the number of volumes that Invista can handle, and integrate EMC's Kashya-originated replication and CDP software with Invista.
"A lot of people have been waiting for version 2.0," said EMC's executive vice president David Donatelli. EMC had better hope so, because since the Invista was launched over 18 months ago, sales have been very slow. Three months ago EMC said that it had clocked up 'over 100' Invista customers, but would not say how many are using Invista in production.
EMC CEO Joe Tucci did not say what the latest sales number is. "We have not been pushing Invista significantly in the marketplace. As version 2.0 comes out, and we add the CDP and replication, that will change," Tucci said.
Invista has so far 'met its business plan' according to Tucci, who stressed EMC's confidence in a technically ambitious architecture that sees the Invista software hosted on a third-party smart SAN switch.
"We remain totally committed to the position that the best and only rational place to host virtualisation is in the network," Tucci said.
Alongside the giant DMX-powered VTL, the other new products launched by EMC yesterday were an update to its Avamar de-duplicated backup system, and a new bare metal server recovery tool called Homebase. Avamar 3.7 adds the ability to back up VMware virtual servers, via VMware's Consolidated Backup feature. The upgrade also allows the system to make de-duplicated NDMP backups of file-level data on EMC's Celerra disk arrays.
EMC also said that it has donated a 100 TB Centera CAS box to the US Smithsonian Institute museum, and has set up an 'EMC Information Heritage Initiative' that will support those who 'demonstrate exemplary stewardship of the world's information treasures'. The company said that over the last decade it has donated $20m to information heritage preservation projects.