The Dell EMC Unity XT system is derived from the EMC VNX/VNXe series of storage systems with a new operating environment and new hardware configuration. Unity XT systems have both all flash and hybrid models and are scale-up systems with dual active controllers. The unified systems support block and file with the file software originally released in the VNXe3200.
Many of the software functions of the Dell EMC Unity XT systems were extracted from VNX software. The Unity XT systems use a SuSE Linux kernel and support Docker containers. The filesystem software supports multiple NAS servers. Unisphere is the element manager as a web GUI, implemented with HTLM5.
Packaged in a 2U enclosure, the dual controllers also have the option of 25 2.5” devices or 12 3.5” devices. Additional devices added with Disk Array Enclosures contain either 15 3.5” devices in a 3U enclosure or 80 2.5” devices in a 3U enclosure. Software features are included in the base price and include snapshots, asynchronous file and synchronous and asynchronous block remote replication, VVOLs and VASA support. Telemetry data is collected and analyzed with a SaaS product called CloudIQ. CloudIQ performs health checks and schedules proactive maintenance based on the analytics.
The SSDs in the Dell EMC Unity XT All-Flash models have a lifetime warranty as long as a maintenance contract is in place. In addition, the maintenance price is guaranteed not to be increased from the initial purchase.
Inline compression is selectable on a LUN basis for all flash storage pools. For file operations as a NAS system, policy-based file tiering to clouds is included.
The architecture of Dell EMC Unity XT is depicted in the following diagram:
The Dell EMC Unity XT system is targeted for usage in the mid-tier enterprise environments that need either a SAN block storage solution, a NAS system or both. The Dell EMC Unity XT system has a low entry price and includes many advanced features and capabilities.
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Dell EMC Unity XT is a unified SAN and NAS system where the file serving function is integral to the system and not an additional, “bolt-on” controller. This allows for a lower hardware price and usually a better, integrated management experience. The maturity of the NAS implementation includes a full spectrum of file protocols, more than is usual in the mid-tier and entry markets. A full suite of advanced features are also available with the exception of tiering of LUNs to clouds/object storage although file-based tiering does support S3, Azure, and VirtuStream targets. Use of CloudArray or VPLEX does allow tiering of LUNs to clouds. Unity XT is one of the few NAS products that allow a stub or symbolic link to be left after tiering enabling automatic recall.
Unity XT is not a scale-out system, which means for increasing performance in parallel with capacity, a new controller pair (another Unity XT model) must be installed with data-in-place as an upgrade. Other competitive systems have implemented scale-out functionality for a more measured growth. Evaluator Group believes the long heritage of the Unity XT system evolved from EMC VNX and Clariion before that, means it is a low-risk, high functional value storage solution. The lack of scale-out is one limitation that must be managed by the customer when choosing the correct model and planning for replacements on pace with coupled capacity and performance demands.