EMC: The Storage Most Integrated with VMware? – The Conclusion


We here at NetApp have been burning the proverbial midnight oil getting ready for VMworld, and in doing so I have put off posting a number of blog entries.

I trust you will be very impressed with our VMworld line up. If you can’t make the show make sure to hit our Virtualization YouTube Channel, as all demos will be posted there when the show opens.

A week and a half ago I posted the first half of a discussion that started with some recent customer meetings and the claims by a storage vendor that they were the most integrated storage with VMware. This post received a fair amount of discussion and comments for which I am grateful. You may note I closed that original post asking for feedback and fact checking of the data shared.

The reason for this follow up post was to share with you that amidst all of the comments none of them pointed out inaccuracies within the shared information. The majority of feedback could be summarized into the following categories:

1. The scope of the comparison was too narrowly defined

2. Better things will come in the future releases

3. The post was vendor mud slinging and not information sharing

I’d like to share with you the integration table and then address each of these grouped responses.


Click here for a larger view of this image

1. The scope of the comparison was too narrowly defined

While we all have tools that work with VMware outside of vCenter I purposely wanted to compare what capabilities were available to the VMware admin within vCenter. I believe this was a fair comparison, there are a number of technologies from both NetApp & EMC not listed in this chart; in fact some of the EMC technologies listed aren’t actually available within vCenter.

2. Better things will come in the future releases

Absolutely, but ongoing engineering efforts are not restricted to EMC or limited to the scope of vStorage APIs for array integration. The complete chart shared in this post is an accurate picture in terms of the current offerings integrated within vCenter, and customers should expect bigger, better, and more advanced solutions from all of their vendors in the future.

To see what NetApp has going on, stop by our booth (#2102) and also make sure to catch Arthur Lent and Scott Davis presenting on Designing Dynamic Data Centers in TA4881 on Thursday at 11:30.

I also post a Sneak Peak of one of the many integrations we demoing about a week or so ago.

3. The post was vendor mud slinging and not information sharing

This is the criticism that I am having the hardest time with. I have reread the post and I don;t believe content is mud slinging, vendor one-ups-manship, or FUD. The post addressed the claims around storage integration with VMware. To clarify, the post does not state that EMC shipps products which are inferior or of low quality.

I believe customers need to understand that EMC offers different integration points based on storage array model and storage protocol, and while they say “virtualize everything with VMware” this is not the case when it comes to storing the data for VMware. They don’t offer an array capable of all protocols, features and integration points.

Does this make EMC bad? Absolutely not.

I believe EMC has a history of engineering different storage architectures in order to meet different needs for different customers. In my opinion they are much more like an automotive company than they a virtualization company. If EMC did sell cars I believe they would offer to sell each prospective customer three vehicles in order to meet all of their needs. A fuel-efficient car for work, a minivan for the family, and a full sized truck for weekend work around the house.

Does this make storage arrays running Data ONTAP the SUV of storage? Note it is available in 6, 8,and 12 cylinder models (the FAS2000, 3000, and 6000 families) plus with the vSeries NetApp can retrofit your existing vehicle into a storage array SUV!

In all seriousness, what I believe this comparison does demonstrate is that if virtualization is inside of the array’s architecture then porting the management tools in vCenter is extremely easy. Take for example the Plug-n-Play SAN connectivity with NetApp and vSphere, or the single Storage Replication Adapter (SRA) for SRM.

2008 Redux

A car analogy on the eve of VMworld reminds me of last year’s post, “The used car salesman approach” which featured a sketch from Mad TV depicting a salesman with a quasi Chad Sakac like appearance.

Kudos to Chad, who took this in stride and even commented that the character in the video somewhat resembled him. It was even funnier with EMC giving a car away last year.

Who knew the car theme would return for 2009? Maybe Virtualization Doesn’t Change Everything… See you at the show!


  1. Disclosure – I’m an EMC employee. Also hoping you don’t selectively quote the below.
    #1) Vaughn – the table is filled with errors, as I’ve emailed you before. Both on the NetApp side and the EMC side. here is a short list. Whether you chose to update it is up to you.
    short list:
    – switching to RR automatically is fine and good, and I commend NetApp, but it is not what PP/VE does. PP/VE is also a PSA module (an MPP). NetApp has not produced a 3rd party PSP or MPP. It would be more correct (IMO) to note that PP/VE is a “paid for additional multipathing behavior”, and “NetApp automatically optimizes for the right VMware config”. Customers need to determine whether that additional value is warranted, but that’s their decision.
    – rapid VM-level cloning (“IO offload for VM clones”) is an operation that is possible on NFS only, not iSCSI/FC/FCoE (which are datastore level operations). The table does not call that out as “NFS only”. BTW – this is coming on NFS shortly on EMC also (see note below about including VSC in this comparison – it sets a precedence for a “table” including things in a 4-6 month pre-GA window – if you count your “pre-GA stuff”, should we?)
    – Does NetApp have a VM-integrated element manager like Navisphere and Recoverpoint (each of which connect to vCenter? No. Note that these are element-manager level integration, not “manager of manager” elements like Control Center, or San Advisor (both of which also integrate with vCenter). There is also no analogue to MirrorView Insight for VMware (included in the current SRM SRA).
    – The “Map storage” FC-only is not correct – we can do it across all protocols.
    – Does NetApp automatically register initiator records of vSphere 4 hosts?
    #2) You guys also published this BEFORE VSC (which is the source of many of the “checks” was GA. VSC is the “analogue” of EMC Storage Viewer (not implying that they do the exact same things with exact overlap). I say analogue only in the sense that they are both vCenter plugins focused on primary storage use cases. This is “better things coming in the future” Within that same window (talking about VSC months before it was released), if I applied the same logic – the list gets even more incorrect.
    I’m not an expert on NetApp, and you are no expert on EMC – let’s leave our “competitive tables of checks and x-marks” to the competitive teams.
    It’s fair for each customer to ask each vendor to demonstrate their VMware integration. When we talk about upcoming capability (which we both do at VMworlds, for example), it’s fair for customers to ask about delivery dates. If it’s in their windows of use, and we demonstrate future capability, it’s reasonable for that to be a factor. Ultimately, it’s then up to the customer to come to their conclusion.
    Also, it’s fair for NetApp to point out that EMC has 3 core array platforms (CLARiiON, Celerra and Symmetrix) which are not the same, and with each offering different features (including different sets of VMware integration). That is a core architectural difference between NetApp and EMC. In our view, we see that the functions of NAS, midrange block, and enterprise block are best served by different codebases (FLARE/DART/Enginuity). I’m sure NetApp would disagree, but I would point to functions on either end of the spectrum that benefit from either approach. Neither is inherently wrong, they are different.
    Customers need to weigh whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages for them.
    It’s not fair (IMHO) for a vendor to make claims about others – they have tendencies to be incomplete (as pointed out), or self-serving (in each direction). Also, whether it’s fair or not is moot – in my experience, customers don’t like it.

  2. Vaughn
    I’m not an EMC employee. I have to say your car manufacturer analogy doesn’t work well for you. If you want to be a “Jack of all Trades/Master of none” then fine it will work. If I need a truck to do a job I certainly wouldn’t take an SUV to do only part of the job. You have basically said that EMC has products aligned to your needs but we can do other things that you may not need. Sorry, you need a better analogy to support your SUV.

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