EMC has added thin provisioning technology to its Symmetrix arrays, driving up disk utilisation and enabling customers to defer disk purchases until the capacity is needed.

EMC calls its version of thin provisioning technology Virtual Provisioning. The technology was invented by Datacore in 2001, and its use in enterprise drive arrays established by 3PAR with its InServe array. Now storage industry leader EMC has delivered it after competitors Hitachi Data Systems and HP.

EMC's Virtual Provisioning works across all Symmetrix storage tiers, including the newly announced tier 0 of flash storage. It enables the Symmetrix DMX system to present an application with more capacity than is physically allocated, delivering 'just-in-time' capacity allocation. EMC says it enhances management flexibility while improving overall system utilisation and energy efficiency, through not spinning empty disks.

"Symmetrix DMX-4 offers full-featured thin provisioning that enterprise customers can depend on for simplified management and improved utilisation in demanding production, replication and application development operations," said David Donatelli, EMC's storage division president.

The company says it provides seamless support for remote and local replication operations, supporting Virtual-to-Virtual (thin-to-thin) replication for both SRDF (Symmetrix Remote Data Facility) remote replication software and TimeFinder replication software. SRDF has itself been enhanced in multi-site replication scenarios. A new Cascade feature eliminates the need for two copies of data at the middle site while improving the Recovery Point Objective at a third site.

Virtual Provisioning has monitoring, automated alerts, reporting, forecasting and chargeback using EMC's ControlCenter software.

New high capacity drives and Symmetrix enhancements

At the same time as adding the performance-centric tier 0 flash drives and cost-saving Virtual Provisioning to Symmetrix products, EMC has also improved the capacity side of things by making 1TB serial ATA (SATA) disk drives available, doubling the previous maximum 500GB drive capacity. A Symmetrix array can now have three storage tiers: tier 0 flash; tier 1 Fibre Channel drives; and tier 2 SATA disks.

Symmetrix DMX supports the latest HyperPAV functionality of IBM’s newest zSeries mainframe platforms. HyperPAVs process multiple I/Os (input/output) per volume more efficiently to improve utilisation of storage resources. In addition, EMC's new Native Flash support assures mainframe customers of compatibility with IBM replication functionality.

EMC also announced IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) and IPsec (IP Security) support for both Symmetrix DMX-3 and DMX-4 systems. IPv6 is the emerging new addressing standard for large-scale IP networks. The native IPsec capability implements the industry-standard IP data encryption protocol within Symmetrix. It can help customers significantly reduce costs and complexity for encrypting data in flight over IP networks.