SAN or NAS: Ways to Connect Your Data

When building a storage network, your basic decision is SAN vs. NAS. The choice will impact how you access your data. You must think about your network that is right for you is critical to providing the right level of capability without overburdening your business...

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Sep 12, 2020


VMAX and PowerMax:

Dell EMC’s enterprise storage arrays with the full range of advanced storage functionality are aimed at high end SAN storage for block and file in open and mainframe environments.

Dell EMC part re-branded VMAX as PowerMax for NVMe flash storage in “flash bricks”.

PowerMax is aimed at large-scale, performance-hungry enterprise databases and analytics and AI/ML applications. Storage class memory which adds a tier of fast storage between backend storage and memory is planned for PowerMax.

There are two PowerMax array products:

  1. PowerMax 2000 that offers up to 1.7 million IOPS and scaling out via 13TB bricks to a capacity of 1PB effective.
  2. PowerMax 8000 offers 10 million IOPS and up to 4PB via scale-up/scale-out growth in 54TB or 13TB for mainframe bricks. Both claim under 300µs latency.

VMAX with F-suffixed models using drives that are SCSI-connected flash are distinguished by performance and capacity

  1. VMAX 250F offering up to 1PB with up to 1 million IOPS. Latency comes out higher than the NVMe-equipped PowerMax boxes at 500µs.
  2. VMAX 950F offering up to 6.7 million IOPS and 4PB. Latency comes out higher than the NVMe-equipped PowerMax boxes 350µs.

VMAX arrays with hybrid flash and disk-equipped storage range from around 500TB to 4.35PB useable capacity

  1. 100K Product
  2. 200K products.
  3. 400K products

All Powermax and VMAX arrays are 8Gbps and 16Gbps Fibre Channel-connected, plus Fibre Channel-over-Ethernet, iSCSI and FICON (mainframe).


Dell EMC’s all-flash block access SAN array product line is Fibre Channel, iSCSI and Ethernet connected.

Xtremio X2 has bunch of hardware and software upgrades that has capacity scale to 1.1PB, or a claimed 5.5PB effective.

Xtremio X2 is based on X-Brick drive bays that can hold up to 72 drives and can be built into clusters of up to four nodes.

The product line has a full range of enterprise storage features that includes data protection, thin provisioning and data reduction, with synchronous replication.

Average latency is half a millisecond across the range, with IOPS figures that go from 430,000 for a single X-Brick up to about 1.7 million for a four-brick cluster. That’s for read-only. You can half that for 70/30 read/write workloads.


Dell EMC’s 2U format midrange Unity family as a merger of the VNX and VNXe ranges. They come in hybrid & all-flash array formats as well as a virtual appliances

Provides block, file and VMware vVols access via up to 16Gbps Fibre Channel and iSCSI. The all-flash F-suffixed products are the

  • 300/350F: Entry-level capacity on the 300/350F starts at 4TB and scales to 2.4PB
  • 400/450F
  • 500/550F
  • 600/650F High End Capacity the 600/650F can go up to 10PB.

I/O performance ranges from around 100,000 IOPS in the 3-series arrays up to nearly 400,000, although that’s for read-only.

The Unity hybrid models leave off the F suffix, but scale to similar capacities. Unity got a software upgrade in 2018.

Midrange SC: 

Dell EMC’s SC family of midrange 3U SAN (iSCSI and Fibre Channel) storage arrays are firmly aimed at midrange customers and are an inheritance of Dell’s acquisition of Compellent in 2010.

SC arrays

  • All-flash SC7020F which scale up to 4PB and and I/O performance of around 1 million IOPS.
  • All-flash SC5020F which scale up to 2PB respectively and I/O performance of around 1 million IOPS.

Hybrid flash arrays

  1. SCv3000
  2. SC5020
  3. SC7020
  4. SC9000

which scale up to between 1PB and 6PB before data reduction and offer I/O of between 230,000 IOPS and 502,000 IOPS for 80/20 read/write workloads.

SC also got a software refresh in 2018, which Dell EMC claimed doubled IOPS for each array.

Entry Level Powervault ME4: 

Dell EMC’s entry-level storage array comes as all-flash or hybrid flash

  • ME4012 in the 2U systems with 12 drive slots
  • ME4024 in the 2U systems with 24 drive slots
  • ME4084 in the 5U expansion enclosure.

It can be configured as direct-attached storage for PowerEdge servers or as SAN storage with 10Gbps iSCSI or 16Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity.

The arrays take SAS flash drives and nearline-SAS spinning disk and can scale up to 4 PB of raw storage with expansion shelves. Auto-tiering, disaster recovery, RAID support, replication, snapshots, thin provisioning and volume copy software are standard features. Dell EMC publicity cites 332,000 IOPS, but read-only.

TAGS: Storage