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Technical Summary: EMC Unification with Unity

EMC Unification with Unity Presidio, a leading IT solutions provider, helps clients utilize the technologies crucial to their digital readiness, including communications and network solutions, mobility, collaboration, data center, hybrid cloud,...

by Srinivas Pokuri, Presidio Principal Datacenter Architect; Raphael Meyerowitz, AVP, Monday, 2 May 2016

EMC Unification with Unity
Presidio, a leading IT solutions provider, helps clients utilize the technologies crucial to their digital readiness, including communications and network solutions, mobility, collaboration, data center, hybrid cloud, cyber security, and internet of things.

Presidio has worked with EMC storage arrays for over 10 years, recently testing the new EMC Unity™ Family of midrange storage systems.  The EMC Unity array is a  “true” unification of the File and Block protocols with full VMware VVOLs support that comes with simplified hardware installation and all-inclusive software – all in 2U. Unlike EMC VNX systems where there are Management Control Stations and Data Movers to contend with for file services, the EMC Unity array removes this complexity and unifies controllers serving both File and Block, hence being called “true” unification.

In working with our clients, we see these trends driving demand for unified storage:  big data applications, data lakes and hybrid cloud data centers. All of these require multiprotocol storage systems that can accommodate all types of data efficiently, which EMC Unity system provides. IT professionals are looking for storage solutions that deliver more density and performance at an affordable price, plus simplicity and reliability.

Models – Hybrid, Flash and VSA
EMC has released three different deployment options for  the EMC Unity array in addition to a virtual edition called EMC Unity Virtual Storage (UnityVSA) appliance that runs on VMware.

The physical appliance models are broadly classified into Hybrid and All-Flash. As the name implies, the All-Flash models just have the SSDs in their enclosures. These SSDs are classified as “SAS Flash 3” in EMC Unisphere with support up to 3.2 TB capacities. Currently the supported All-Flash capacities are 400 GB, 800 GB, 1.6 TB and 3.2 TB. The DAEs for All-Flash arrays are 25 Drive DAEs with the 2.5” SFF.

The Hybrid models comprise a traditional mix of Flash, SAS and NL-SAS drives. The 600 GB SAS Drives are available in both 15k RPM and 10k RPM speeds. Additionally, 1.2 TB and 1.8 TB capacities are available in the 10k RPM. NL-SAS drives are at 7.2k RPMs and the supported capacities are 2TB, 4TB and even 6TB. The Flash drives in the Hybrid models are classified as SAS Flash 2, and support capacities up to 1.6 TB. The different capacities available are 200GB, 400GB, 800GB and 1.6TB.

The following EMC Unity All-Flash models are available today:

  • EMC Unity 300F
  • EMC Unity 400F
  • EMC Unity 500F
  • EMC Unity 600F

The following EMC Unity Hybrid models are available today:

  • EMC Unity 300
  • EMC Unity 400
  • EMC Unity 500
  • EMC Unity 600

Below you will find the hardware specifications and the maximums for the Flash or Hybrid models.

The EMC UnityVSA (virtual appliance) is a great addition to the EMC Storage arrays that truly represents a “software-defined” approach. Currently the EMC UnityVSA Professional Edition is available in 10TB, 25TB and 50TB capacity increments with full EMC Support. There is also a EMC UnityVSA  Community Edition that is free and supports up to 4 TB in Test/Dev environments.

The hardware in the EMC Unity array is simplified. Both Block and File are unified into a single DPE with two Storage Processors (SP). Another improvement is that the DAEs in EMC Unity array come with 12GB SAS back-end connectivity.

Each SP consists of single socket CPU, 4x DDR4 DIMM slots and 2x SLIC slots.

The following embedded ports exist:

  • 2x 1 Gbe RJ45 ports (Mgmt. and Service)
  • 2x 10 Gbe RJ45 ports (Front end)
  • 2x CNA ports (Front end – Can be configured as either 16 GB FC or 10 GB Ethernet during initialization)
  • 2x mini-HD SAS Ports (12 Gb SAS DAE connectivity)
  • 1x USB port

Two I/O modules can be optionally added to each SP.

Here is a look at the internal view of the Storage processor enclosure:

Types of DAEs:
The EMC Unity array supports two types of enclosures. Both types come with a 12GB SAS backend. For this reason, no enclosures from a EMC VNX family are supported on the EMC Unity array. Enclosure types include:

  • 12GB 25 Drive DAE
  • 12GB 12 Drive DAE

The EMC Unity array supports Block and File protocols similar to a EMC VNX or EMC VNXe. Additionally, the EMC Unity array adds support for VVOLs. Mixing Block, File and VVOLs on the same storage pool is fully supported in a EMC Unity array, unlike a EMC VNX where there were certain best practice recommendations around mixing the workloads.

New Features
The EMC Unity array comes with a pack of new hardware and software features focusing on the true unification:

  • DPE reduced from a 7U footprint to an innovative 2U footprint
  • 12 GB SAS back-end for the Unity DAEs; EMC VNX/VNXe supported only 6 GB SAS backend
  • Completely redesigned user interface based on HTML5
  • Support for setting up Host I/O limits, also known as QOS, providing a more predictable performance for the workloads by putting limits on I/O throughputs and bandwidth

Setting limits on a per LUN basis is simple. Demonstrations of the wizard for setting limits are below:


The snapshots and replication features are tightly integrated into the LUN creation/configuration workflow. A single LUN configuration wizard for LUN creation, host access, FAST VP tiering policy, snapshot creation, replication setup and host I/O limits.

  • Snapshots and Replication can also be setup at a Consistency Group level. The EMC Unity Unisphere interface gives ability to create consistency groups and add multiple LUNs to a consistency groups. At that point, Snapshots and replication features can utilize consistent point in time across multiple LUNs.

  • In addition, EMC will add improvements later in 2016 to compress data in real time, which will result in significant capacity efficiencies.
  • Tighter integration with VMware that includes support for VVOLs. A VMware Datastore can be created through EMC Unisphere interface using any supported protocol.


EMC gave importance to simplicity with the release of the EMC Unity Storage arrays. EMC Unity systems can be racked and stacked in minutes since there are fewer components - no data movers, no control stations, and there’s only 6 cables to mess with in this 100% unified array. You can also rapidly clone configurations through Unisphere to hundreds of systems in ROBO or larger deployments. The HTML5-based EMC Unisphere interface eliminates many of the Java issues previously experienced by storage administrators (no more Java) and provides. Similarly, software simplifications such as a single interface and screens for configuring storage for Block, File or VMware and integrated workflows for Snapshots and replication are also available.

Simplicity also came in the form of software licensing process. The software features listed here for the All-Flash, Hybrid, and EMC UnityVSA are all-inclusive respectively:

The EMC Unity arrays provide with a performance dashboard that enables us to interact with the performance metrics of various storage resources such as IOPs, bandwidth, network traffic etc. The EMC Unity array’s performance dashboard also gives ability to generate customized performance charts based on the needs. Easy to use wizards are provided for this purpose.

The EMC Unity array supports “native” replication of Block, File and VMware Datastores. The replication component is a feature that is built into the product and supports synchronous and asynchronous replication for Block and VMware Datastores, and asynchronous replication for NAS servers.

The EMC Unity array also comes with a RecoverPoint splitter and supports replication of Block storage using RecoverPoint. This applies to the physical models of EMC Unity arrays only. The VSA Unity does not support RecoverPoint.

Replication is very simple to setup. It is part of the LUN creation wizard or a NAS Filesystem creation wizard, and a few clicks. The configuration screens are identical for both Block and File replication. The failover screens resemble that of a Recoverpoint.


The EMC Unity array proactively monitors all System components. The System View Dashboard provides a quick overview and health of all Components. Clicking on a component gives more detailed information.

Any Hardware issues that need attention are displayed under the Summary view.

The Alerts section categorizes the events into Informational, Warning, Error, and Critical. The alerts are displayed as they occur. Selecting an alert displays detailed information about it.

The ESRS feature provides IP based connectivity so that the EMC support can receive errors and alerts from the EMC Unity array and provide remote troubleshooting. One of the improvements with ESRS on the EMC Unity arrays (physical models only) is that it is an integrated feature built into the OE that runs as a managed service. EMC is utilizing the SUSE-based Docker image for the embedded ESRS.

Where to Buy?

All of the new EMC Unity products are available today. To learn more about EMC Unity products, or to get information on attending a briefing for EMC Unity products, contact Presidio today.

Follow us on Twitter @Presidio

  Srinivas Pokuri – Principal Datacenter Architect, DC post-sales - @spokuri123

Description: Raphael Meyerowitz – AVP, DC post-sales - @raphmeyer

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