EMC V-Max FAST: Coming in December … And 2010!

EMC’s Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) was one of the most welcome annoucements made during the Symmetrix V-Max introduction. It would be a significant modernization of EMC’s Symmetrix line, and would be one of the first unique features of the Symmetrix V-Max line. But many, including me, were disappointed to learn in May that FAST would not be available for upwards of a year. The exact release dates have been unclear since then, but the company is not becoming more open as the release nears: FAST V1, which works at LUN level, will be released in December, and FAST V2, with sub-LUN granularity, will follow in May of mid-2010!

EMC mentioned this schedule on their public earnings call, repeated it in discussions with Enterprise Storage Forum, and corporate PR confirmed it to me this morning. FAST is, if you will excuse the pun, fast-approaching!

There’s actually a very-significant difference between FAST versions 1 and 2:

  • FAST version 1 (coming in December 2009) can automatically migrate an entire LUN between tiers of storage on the Symmetrix V-Max based on access patterns. This is a nice-to-have feature, but does not yet live up to the promise of automated tiered storage, as pioneered by Compellent and offered in various forms by many other storage companies. I am told that FAST version 1 also does not support virtually-provisioned (thin) volumes. Although FAST will make it much easier to take advantage of solid state flash drives (EFDs to EMC), it will do nothing to improve utilization.
  • FAST version 2 (coming in May mid-2010?) will automatically move smaller sub-LUN pieces of storage between tiers of storage, and will reportedly support virtual provisioning. It is likely that FAST would use the same extent size supported by virtual provisioning, which is 12 tracks or 768 KB. The combination of virtual provisioning and fully-automated storage tiering will finally EMC the ammunition they need to defend their turf against smaller challengers when it comes to these sticky technical features.

So there you have it. EMC V-Max gets FAST in December 2009 and May mid-2010! Now how about a schedule for geo-distributed clustering?

Update: Fixed two typos above. I wrote “May 2009″ instead of “May 2010″. You should see my checkbook!

Note: Although Lou Przystas told Enterprise Storage Forum that FAST V2 would come in May, EMC has apparently not set a hard date and are saying “mid-2010″ at this point. Even this is an aggressive ship date, but I won’t say EMC missed it unless we haven’t got it by the end of summer!

© sfoskett for Stephen Foskett, Pack Rat, 2009. |
EMC V-Max FAST: Coming in December … And 2010!

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About the author

Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett is an active participant in the world of enterprise information technology, currently focusing on enterprise storage, server virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. He organizes the popular Tech Field Day event series for Gestalt IT and runs Foskett Services. A long-time voice in the storage industry, Stephen has authored numerous articles for industry publications, and is a popular presenter at industry events. He can be found online at,, and on Twitter at @SFoskett.

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