EMC have recently launched a refresh of the VNX called VNX2. It has been interesting exploring the new features from memory enhancements to improved snapshots. I was very excited reading about all the new features. However, what I found more interesting was that the new updates which include most of the features with the exception of snapshot enhancements cannot be loaded on current gen boxes even with plenty of CPU and Memory resources.. Nevertheless apart from many other enhancements such as space efficiency, LUNs load balancing, improved auto tiering and easier management of pools, there are some good long awaited features that have been added specifically to snapshots.
Snapshots have always been a very useful and interesting feature of VNX, as it can be used in many ways like data backups, software development, testing and repurposing. They do however come with some limitations as per previous flare code but, good news, EMC has added some really good features which previous flare code revisions desperately needed and my favourite is Redirect on First Write which replaces Copy on First write and its performance overhead.
Scalability has also been an issue in any Storage environment and a limitation which has annoyed most in previous versions of snapview is the snapshots per LUN. EMC has raised the per LUN snapshots limit from 8 to 256 and up to 32,000 per system as of OE/Flare 7.1.x/05.32.x; all writable with improved performance on writes. Multiple copies can be thinly provisioned with snap space consumed from the virtual pool giving more freedom in space management with up to 90% space saving. EMC has also included the ability to take snaps of the snap, called branching. The resulting snapshot becomes a copy of the source, it retains the LUN properties and resides within the same pool. This feature opens up the possibility for many new use cases. Testing, development and point-in-time backups are a few of the very useful cases for today’s storage environment.
EMC has also improved performance on snapshot deletion, which might not be very useful in a small environment, but in larger environments it will save a significant amount of time as the new code utilises available array resources to make it faster if there is no activity in the pool. Some other useful new features include instance restore, delete out of order and enhanced interoperability with AppSync. Which focuses on Microsoft products such as SharePoint, SQL and Exchange as well as VMware environment. By utilising the new features of Snapshots and AppSync, we can have application-consistent snapshots and restores in no time.
Although there are many other new features in VNX2 the improved memory management and CPU multithreading with the enhanced snapshots, put EMC as a leading player in midrange storage.