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EMC

EMC is the world's leading developer and provider of information infrastructure technology and solutions that enable organizations of all sizes to transform the way they compete and create value from their information.
.... EMC logo - click for more info

See also:- EMC - editor mentions in StorageSearch.com and EMC's SSD page

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Editor:- January 29, 2014 - EMC was ranked #16 in the Q4 2013 edition of the Top SSD Companies List which is researched and published by StorageSearch.com
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articles related to where EMC operates in the SSD market:-

PCIe SSDs
SSD software
scary Skyera
how fast can your SSD run backwards?
It's IBM SSD Jim - but not as we know it
exciting new directions in rackmount SSDs
Auto-tuning SSD Accelerated Pools of storage
High availability fault tolerant SSD arrays market

Who's who in SSD? - by Zsolt Kerekes, editor - April 2013

To understand EMC's position in the SSD market today you have to understand that - like many other leading enterprise companies at the time - and for similar reasons - EMC failed to understand that what was happening in the SSD market in the period 2003 to 2010 was significantly different to what had happened before.

For this and other reasons EMC wasn't engaged at all in several significant SSD market transitions:- such as the switch away from RAM SSDs to the dominance of flash SSDs in the enterprise, and neither did it play any active role in the firm establishment of the PCIe SSD market.

When EMC did start to react to customer demand for SSD arrays - its first SSD systems in the modern era - launched in 2008 - fell far below the performance and efficiency standards which had already been set by leading companies (at the time) in the rackmount SSD market.

Learning from its many early mistakes - which included walking away from the opportunity to become one of Fusion-io's first enterprise oem customers - EMC has - in the past several years - slowly pieced together a business plan which has enabled it to operate adequately within the SSD market as an integrator, oem. licensee and acquirer of raw SSD drives from a variety of primary sources (listed in the article below).

While presenting to the world the confident image that it will assimilate SSDs in the same way as it has other past storage technologies - EMC has - like a duck paddling desperately fast underwater - been rushing around behind the scenes to assemble a credible sounding software and architecture strategy framework to pitch to its customers as EMC's SSD vision for the future.

If the SSD market had been a less disruptive market - then EMC's wrong footedness would have been more damaging to its business prospects. But due to the anarchic state of the SSD software market - in which there was a a gaping vacuum of leadership from the anticipated sources even as late as 2012 - EMC - despite not having a developed SSD product line of its own - was in fact in no worse a state than many of the other companies it was used to competing with.


Here below is an earlier and longer version of my SSD market oriented analysis of EMC - from May 2012 - followed by a timeline of key SSD related activities re EMC

EMC is 1 of more than 100 companies in the rackmount SSD market. It also engages in these market segments:- FC SAN SSDs, iSCSI SSDs, SSD software, HA SSDs and PCIe SSDs.

Many of the leading SSD companies I talk to - which compete with EMC - are happy that for many years EMC was a non-participant, and then a follower and integrator of externally sourced SSD hardware rather than a leader in SSD architecture. Uncompetitive SSD solutions from EMC were good for them.

Nevertheless - that doesn't stop many of these self same companies having wished at one time or another than EMC would become a volume customer of their products - or maybe even acquire them. (EMC acquired XtremIO - in May 2012).

As the SSD market has grown bigger - EMC has been under increasing pressure to do something more significant in the SSD market. As predicted EMC has been slowly solving its SSD weaknesses and gaps using a combination of oem deals, licensing and acquisition - overlayed by promises of significant SSD software in the future. There was no big-bang quick-fix available that would work any better.

EMC has oemed SSDs from many leading SSD makers including:- STEC, Samsung , HGST, LSI, Micron and Virident.

EMC formed a flash business unit in May 2011 - but it wasn't until February 2012 that the company launched its first PCIe SSD based products (Project Lightning) which uses PCIe SSDs sourced from LSI.

For more info about EMC take a look at the links above and EMC - editor mentions in StorageSearch.com.

I currently talk to more than 300 makers of SSDs and another 100 or so companies which are closely enmeshed around the SSD ecosphere - which are all profiled here on the mouse site.

I learn about new SSD companies every day, including many in stealth mode. If you're interested in the growing big picture of the SSD market canvass - StorageSearch will help you along the way. Many SSD company CEOs read our site too - and say they value our thought leading SSD content - even when we say something that's not always comfortable to hear. I hope you'll find it it useful too.
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EMC mentions in SSD market history
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In 1987 EMC introduced SSD storage for the mini-computer market, which was the hottest part of the server market at that time. EMC's SSDs were 20x faster than the then available hard disks. But market forces and losses led to EMC exiting the "memory enhancement" business soon after.

... ...21 years later:- EMC re-entered the SSD market in January 2008 - with rackmount arrays populated by flash SSDs from STEC.

In October 2010 - Samsung said it is shipping 200GB 3.5" SATA SLC SSDs to EMC. Sequential R/W speeds are 260MB/s and 245MB/s respectively. R/W IOPS are 47,000 and 29,000. The new Samsung SSDs have an 'end-to-end data integrity' function and encryption.

In January 2011 - EMC revealed it had shipped 10 petabytes of SSD storage in 2010. To put that into context:- it's equivalent to 10% of the enterprise SSD capacity shipped in the same period by SandForce Driven partners and 2/3 of the enterprise SSD capacity shipped in the same period by Fusion-io. Most of EMC's flash in that period was SLC - whereas most of the flash shipped by the other named vendors (and their channel partners) was lower cost MLC. There are differences - see are MLC SSDs Ever Safe in Enterprise Apps? - for more about that.

In May 2011 - EMC announced it has created a flash business unit and will enter the PCIe SSD market later this year. The company indicated that its run rate of shipping flash storage array capacity in 2011 is approximately 3x the level it had achieved in 2010.

In February 2012 - EMC launched its new PCIe SSD based product line - VFCache - which as widely reported last month - leverages hardware designed by LSI and incorporates SandForce controllers.

In May 2012 - EMC announced it has acquired XtremIO for $430 million

In March 2013 - EMC said it was sampling flash arrays which are designed and managed using the big SSD controller architecture based on leveraging IP from its acquisition of XtremIO.

In July 2013 - EMC announced it has agreed to acquire yet another storage software company - called ScaleIO.

In November 2013 - EMC launched a legal suit against Pure Storage alledging that former EMC personnel had taken with them detailed customer related market information.

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EMC finally does PCIe SSD launch
Editor:- February 6, 2012 - EMC today launched its new PCIe SSD based product line - which as widely reported last month - leverages hardware designed by LSI.

As you'd expect - EMC say they plan to do a lot of things to support this with their wrap around software protection (high availability, data integrity, reliability, and disaster recovery) and auto tiering / SSD ASAP. And in the future they're going to do things even faster. Nothing to get excited about then - unless you are a supplier to EMC.

EMC would like to suggest that it was the first company to offer flash SSDs in an enterprise storage array Their press release said - "VFCache is the latest in a line of enterprise flash innovation firsts, beginning in 2008 when EMC was the first to integrate flash drives into an enterprise storage array."

That's an idiosyncratic reinterpretation of SSD history. In the interests of accuracy I would rewrite that to say - "EMC was the 1st company to ship lonely flash drives in an EMC branded enterprise storage array (which consisted mostly of hard drives)."

losers from this?

I guess you can count STEC as a loser - because having been EMC's original flash SSD supplier (in other form factors) they may have had some hopes that their late-to-market new PCIe SSD might get its tires kicked.

I'm only saying this - because otherwise I'll get a load of emails asking what I think - but in my view it would be a mistake to count Fusion-io as a loser in this.

FIO is the company which did most to establish PCIe SSDs as a recognized and disruptive force in the enterprise market - and a year ago upset EMC by disclosing it had shipped significantly more of its fast ioDrive flash SSD capacity into the enterprise than EMC had done with its slower STEC kind - despite EMC having had the prior advantage of a legacy tied customer base.

I heard recently from someone who is no longer with the company - that as you might expect for a fledgling company developing oem opportunities - many years ago Fusion-io offered its PCIe SSDs as an oem platform to EMC. Apparently EMC evaluated the ioDrive and poked around the issue for months - but EMC was - at that time - "clueless" about the potential of the SSD market couldn't understand what to do with it.
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(a Toshiba group company)
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EMC's flash educational video
Editor:- I've been saying for years that any simple analysis - like my enterprise silos model - makes it clear why no single flash product (or supplier) can economically satisfy all requirements.
frame from EMC flash ssd video
The first idea is graphically encapsulated in a video by EMC which they call "FLASH in a flash."

This video also introduces a smart and almost apologetic way of positioning hard drive based storage - as being for applications which can "tolerate multi milli-seconds latency".

That's clever - because they know most of you already have these HDD systems, and EMC is best known for these slower rotating storage systems. That's how they get you to lower your guard by introducing the familiar.

The 2nd half of the video - which is not so good as a general flash video - suggests that EMC is the best supplier to look at because it's got 25 years experience in storage.

In my view that argument doesn't logically follow.

Experience in something that's so very different is irrelevant. It's like suggesting that breeding horses would have made Ford better at designing engines.

Nice try by EMC marketing at subtle SSD sales sophistry by linking irrelevant concepts though.
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EMC samples XtremIO flash arrays
Editor:- March 5, 2013 - EMC today announced new models of PCIe SSDs which the company claims offer nearly 60% better TCO than (unnamed competitors) due to new levels of efficiency.

EMC's XtremSF half - height, half - length PCIe SSDs are currently available in eMLC upto 2.2TB, while SLC models upto 1.4TB will ship in the 2nd quarter.

EMC also said it's sampling flash arrays which are designed and managed using the big SSD controller architecture based on leveraging IP from its acquisition of XtremIO.

Editor's comments:- the industry has been anticipating flash SSDs which use XtremIO's RAID busting architecture.

Details are sketchy right now - but the efficiency gains from throwing away the old drive array design rulebook and starting again with a flash foundation while at the same time having control of the complete SSD software stack can be impressive - as I learned last year talking to Rado Danilak CEO of another leading company taking this approach - Skyera.

Can we expect EMC's flash array pricing to plunge down to Skyera levels?

That will never happen - because EMC's business carries the legacy burden of too many hard drives and too many old suits.

But what we could see instead - is EMC's flash arrays coming down to a price point where the customer pain is low enough to delay many of them from switching away to other flash. Which means EMC could still have a future in the solid state storage business.
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"Will HDD use migrate to SSD? No. It's not exactly like that. In the long term the SSD market will be bigger in revenue than the HDD market ever was."
How will hard drives fare in an SSD world?
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"In 1987 EMC introduced SSD storage for the mini-computer market. EMC's SSDs were 20x faster than contemporary hard disks."
...from:- Charting the Rise of the SSD Market
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SSD ad - click for more info
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Nimbus blog seems fixated on EMC's XtremIO
Editor:- December 6, 2012 - when it comes to blogs written by SSD vendors - there's a huge variation in the frequency and quality of publishing content - even among leading SSD companies.

I had noticed during the 2nd half of this year that the blog written by Nimbus's CEO, Thomas Isakovich - never changed.

For over 6 months it was stuck in a time warp of May 2012 - commenting on EMC's acquisition of XtremIO.

Then I got an email this morning saying Tom had written something new.

Imagine my surprise when I looked and found it was fixed on exactly the same core topic - but from a different angle - in which he critiques the scalability and efficiency of XtremIO's architecture. (His timing was apparently prompted by earlier blogs this week by Robin Harris who interpreted a recently published interview (elements of which it now seems may have been misunderstood) with EMC's Chuck Hollis - none of which I had read before today - because I don't expect to see SSD thought leadership to come from that direction (EMC).

Which isn't news to regular readers. But if you've missed the last N years of my SSD ramblings and want me to clarify this stance - it's simply because EMC's response to the SSD business model - in the modern SSD era - has been reactive and therefore has been pragmatically weighted towards acquisition, badge engineering and software integration - which if you know the company's history - looks a lot like what they were doing since the 1990s too and which was a very successful business strategy for them. When all the hardware components are the same for everyone (as they were for 20 years in the HDD array market) then it's the software and services which make the enterprise difference. We haven't got to that level of stasis yet in SSD hardware (and are nowhere close to fossilization) - which is one of the reasons that leadership in the SSD software market is still up for grabs too.

Going back to Nimbus's new blog - Thomas Isakovich says - "There are numerous limitations with the XtremIO design."

If the past is any guide to the future in this respect - then that link - which is to the home page of Nimbus's blog - rather than a permalink for that specific post - may still be stuck in that groove in another 6 months time too.

To my mind - when SSD vendors compare their products to those from EMC - it's almost as regressive as comparing SSDs to HDDs.


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EMC acquires XtremIO
Editor:- May 10, 2012 - EMC today announced it has acquired XtremIO for $430 million.

Editor's comments:- XtremIO was a vendor of rackmount SSDs which included dedupe and management of the storage drives in the array using proprietary array technology which the company said was much more efficient than RAID - while also supporting high performance and fast snapshots.
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