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Power to the Max

During Storage Field Day 16, my fellow delegates and I visited the Dell EMC HQ in Hopkinton Massachusetts. The presentation on the Dell EMC PowerMax was given by Vince Westin,  a Technical Evangelist for the PowerMax Group. Vince is one of those special people that knows every in- and out of the product AND has the ability to share his knowledge with others.

The PowerMax product is the evolution of the Dell EMC VMAX line, which was the evolution of the DMX, which in its turn was the evolution of the EMC Symmetrix. A product that was born 26 years ago in 1992. And this might seem not that long ago, but in the storage industry that is long time. And this is reflected in many of the very large enterprise customers that use Dell EMC PowerMax storage as their mission critical tier zero storage solution. Let’s dive a little deeper in to the PowerMax technology, explained by Vince that afternoon.

Slide one…

No I’m not going through all slides, but the one of the first slides Vince showed says a lot of the true potential of the PowerMax and tells an almost complete story.

Best in Class

Best in class performance can be a bit of a tricky claim and skewed any number of ways. But to be honest, the PowerMax numbers are pretty darn impressive…


Consolidate Everything

Using the PowerMax gives its customers the possibility to use it for a very broad spectrum of applications and systems that can use it as their primary storage system. All with the compression, dedupe, and data at rest encryption, plus a bevy of other PowerMax features.


Mission Critical Availability

As I already mentioned (and what Vince said as well) PowerMax is a tier zero enterprise storage array and as such the data on these systems can rely on a very impressive six 9s availability with Acitive/Active site and long distance multi-array replication.


I know, there are others that will crunch these as well, and might even be slightly faster, or provide other desirable features, but the PowerMax numbers are pretty rock solid, and are backed with more than 25 years of field experience.

PowerMax Focus

The PowerMax focus is really based on driving down the response time with Intelligent caching of I/O that has been revolutionized over the last 25 (yes, I said it again) years or so. The PowerMax hardware is made up of a PCIe backend with NVMe drives, to move the data even closer to the CPU and further drive down latency. On the PowerMax the team made sure that the hottest 20% of the data will not be compressed to make sure that 80% of the reads will not be hit by compression latency. There is dedicated hardware within the PowerMax to help with data reduction, as well as providing service level management for all flash systems to provide platinum to bronze levels on all flash arrays.

The list is already very impressive and the team is already working hard on driving down the response time even further with things like Storage Class Memory and NVMe over Fabrics (NVMeoF).

Arjan’s Opinion

There is always the feeling that old is bad, and that new is good. But let’s be honest and say that the PowerMax storage line is a very impressive one. The long history brings a product to market that is used by very large customers all over the world and those companies would certainly not come back for more if the products they’ve used so far sucked. I for one are really impressed by the evolution and revolution of Dell EMC, and I would like to suggest you watch all the Dell EMC PowerMax (and CloudIQ) videos of SFD16 here.

Massimiliano (Max) Mortillaro and I had the opportunity to do a podcast with Vince a week or 2 ago to discuss the PowerMax progress over the last couple of months and I would like to suggest to listen to this as well (here).

About the author

Arjan Timmerman

Architect and Advisor for ATvisement, Arjan uses his 20+ years in IT to help consultants, engineers, and architects grow in this fast-changing world. Through his blog at TECHunplugged.io, this VMware vExpert shares his insights and IT experience.

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