EMC introduces massive VMware support in new CLARiiON CX4

It’s obvious that owning VMware grants some benefits to the parent company EMC, but so far they never appeared too evident.
Now EMC decides to show some muscles and prove that the investment on VMware wasn’t limited to its acquisition in 2003.

On Tuesday the company announced its new enterprise storage array, the CLARiiON CX4, which features a series of features specifically VMware.

Chad Sakac, Senior Director of VMware Strategic Alliance, is becoming the new public face of EMC through its personal blog and wrote a long insight about the strategy behind the new CX4:

…in the VMware environment my main interest is in the UltraFlex I/O modules.

Why are these important?   The following are true statements from where I sit, and lead (at least for me) to a couple obvious conclusions of where datacenters are headed:

  • Any x86 workload can be virtualized, and what can be done, will be done (we’ve shown only a small sampling of that here, here, and here)   There’s too many good reasons to do this.   This will include all sorts of workloads that even on their own, have a heavy I/O impact.  Put them together and it’s straight addition.
  • Consolidation ratios are only going to increase.    With Intel (and in this cycle, AMD to a lesser extent – but I’m sure they will come out swinging) making a quad core proc for $250 now, and setting clear expectations for 8-core and more in 2009, and memory innovation to come, we will quickly move from 10:1 to 20:1 (I would argue we’re already well past that!) to 40:1 to 100:1 and beyond. 
  • BTW, please think about what that sort of hyper-consolidation future implies about: 1) Memory Page Sharing (aka memory dedupe) and about those that CAN do it (VMware) and those that can’t (Hyper-V and Xen); 2) whether you care that you can do live, non-disruptive movement of VMs when you have 100 on a single host – is that going to become more important, or less?
  • The bottleneck is moving to the I/O layer (both the network and storage transport and the back-end).   This is particularly acute on network and IP storage today (again, know that I’m an IP super-fan, and no-fanboi of FC for it’s own sake) – where many, many GbE interfaces off a single server are common, and blades once again come into vouge, not for power/space/density issues (VMware makes the only question power/space/density per VM the question) – but rather for IO aggregation/virtualization/management reasons.
  • Above all, flexibility is paramount (i.e. the ability to non-disruptively adapt to unforeseen changes) with things like Vmotion and Storage VMotion – and those constructs will increasingly appear in all parts of infrastructure.

Now, making storage built for VMware is only part of EMC’s strategy – our view is that everything needs to adapt to a world where nearly every host is a hypervisor, and every app is a VM or VM appliance.   This affects infrastructure operations (backup/recovery/DR, etc), management (understanding and adapting to pervasive mobility, PtoV mapping and relationships) and skillset (we’re at 400 VCPs and still adding at 50/quarter)…

Please note that this is the only major announcement that EMC made at the Pacific Crest Technology Conference.
The company didn’t unveil any acquisition, merge or spin-off as rumored few days earlier.