EMC VNX 5200

Product Review: One NAS Server Does It All

EMC’s VNX 5200 is a powerful, scalable server that can take on almost any storage role.

EMC VNX 5200

EMC VNX 5200

It's difficult to believe that the EMC VNX 5200 is the entry-level unit of the new VNX network-attached storage product lineup for EMC.

This incredibly powerful machine takes up just three units of space and can hold up to 125 drives. Users can customize the configuration and type of drives inside the array, with a variety of both flash and traditional spinning drives supported. As such, the VNX 5200 is designed to work in almost any storage environment — from simply saving files in the data center to service as the backbone of a large virtual desktop initiative rollout. This unit also integrates with VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization.

For this review, we tested a unit set up in a hybrid configuration with several flash-based solid-state drives used for data processing. About 70 percent of the remaining drives were traditional spinning disks, which were used only for storage. This setup resulted in an extremely fast environment, and was simple to configure and manage; however, that is just one possible configuration.

Regardless of the role, all VNX 5200 users will enjoy certain advantages and protections. The most unique are built-in battery backup units. Two BBUs are installed per array in the base module, providing enough power to ensure that any data in flight is de-staged to a vault area in the event of a power failure. In the unit we tested, the VNX operating ­environment booted from the first four drives on the enclosure, which also functioned as the vault area. When the power was cut in the middle of a write operation, the unit continued to function long enough so that no data was ever lost. A backup power supply is still recommended, of course, but the BBUs can compensate for any delay in switching over to a new power source.

EMC VNX 5200

Another great feature is the auto­mation provided by the MCx operating environment and the Unisphere user interface. Administrators can set policies and configure storage with just a few clicks, or leave it to the system to manage tasks automatically. The 5200 can do just about everything on its own, such as assigning unused drives as hot spares for RAID configurations, throttling write arrival rates to avoid flushing, and continuously self-tuning based on current configuration and workload.

The VNX 5200 is a powerful blank slate for storage. For the entry-level enterprise environment, it can become almost anything an organization needs. It can be tightly managed by a storage administrator who really wants to tweak it, or left almost completely alone for those who aren't experts in storage and simply desire a device that works out of the box, and it will maintain optimized settings from that point on.


Aug 14 2014