The EMC Unity family features all-flash and hybrid storage arrays that were designed to meet the needs of midsize organizations.

Some technology vendors seem to think that midsize businesses have the same IT needs as large enterprises — just smaller. They offer midrange technology products that are merely stripped-down versions of their enterprise solutions. These products may have a lower price point but they don’t address the IT challenges that midsize organizations face.

This is particularly true when it comes to storage. According to a recent study by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), midmarket organizations are grappling with rapid data growth, data protection challenges and rising hardware costs. They are also running out of physical data center space and need to rein in power and cooling expenses. Flash storage can help SMBs address these problems — but only if it’s affordable and easy to manage.

“Midsize organizations have business-critical IT requirements but most often do not have expansive teams of IT specialists to deploy and manage expensive, enterprise-oriented flash arrays. Yet they still require enterprise performance and cost-effective features that are practical to deploy,” said Ryan Hicks, Director of Professional Services, ProSys.

“These midsize organizations need to free up capital and limit operational expenditures in order to focus their efforts on their respective lines of market innovation and gain competitive edges through digital transformation. Not an easy feat. These paradigms are usually conflicting where technology hardware/software manufacturers are forced to focus on one or the other.”

EMC is addressing the needs of the midmarket with its Unity flash storage platform. EMC Unity unifies file and block storage in a platform that is cost-efficient, space-efficient and exceptionally easy to use. It includes many of the “must-have” features midsize organizations look for when purchasing storage platforms.

The Value of Flash

Flash has evolved from a high-cost niche technology to a mainstream storage solution. The price of flash has fallen dramatically in recent years, making it competitive with traditional disk drives and driving increased adoption.

Speed is the primary reason organizations implement flash. With access times measured in microseconds, flash minimizes storage latency and delivers the performance needed for today’s applications. Flash is more reliable than disk, with greater tolerance for heat and vibration. It also reduces the data center footprint, cuts power and cooling requirements, and creates a more scalable infrastructure to accommodate data growth.

While these benefits can be realized by organizations of all sizes, flash has historically been too expensive for midsize organizations. As the cost of flash continues to drop, however, more and more midmarket companies are beginning to deploy flash storage solutions. In fact, 53 percent of midsize organizations surveyed by ESG said they were using flash storage, compared to just 47 percent of enterprises.

“Clearly, there is strong demand for flash among midsize organizations, and EMC is well-positioned to address it,” said Hicks. “EMC Unity delivers up to 300,000 IOPS in an easy-to-manage solution that can scale up to five petabytes of storage capacity. More significantly, Unity makes it practical for midsize organizations and enterprise remote and branch offices to deploy all-flash arrays for a wide range of workloads.”

Performance, Flexibility, Simplicity

EMC introduced Unity to replace VNX, its highly popular but aging flash platform for SMBs. Launched in January 2011, VNX combined EMC’s market-leading SAN and NAS technologies with automated tiering software that exploited the benefits of solid-state drives.

Unity is much more than a refresh of VNX. EMC reengineered the system from the ground up to deliver highly affordable file and block storage with three times the performance of VNX. Unity has a true active-active controller architecture and enterprise-class features, including snapshots and replication, controller-based encryption, and a scalable file system for both transactional and file-based use cases.

“Because every business has unique storage challenges, EMC Unity has been designed to offer greater flexibility than competing flash storage offerings,” Hicks said. “Midsize organizations can choose from all-flash and hybrid configurations in a dense 2U enclosure, as well as virtual appliances that provide Unity’s advanced storage and data management features.”

Previous generations of EMC’s unified storage had separate Windows operating systems and management interfaces for file and block storage that were brought together into one screen. Unity features one Linux-based operating environment with all the hardware needed for file and block storage, enabling organizations to streamline their storage environments while reducing costs. In addition, Unity base software suite provides management features, unified protocols, and local and remote data protection — all included in the purchase price.

Management and More

EMC Unity features a modern, HTML5 interface that streamlines monitoring and proactive management. Its task-oriented design leads the user through daily operations and integrates with VMware and Microsoft ecosystems for easy third-party management. New Proactive Assist capabilities give IT control, visibility and automated management of Unity storage systems.

Administrators can also view Unity service data within EMC MyService360, an online service that provides real-time visibility into the health of the EMC environment. MyService360 provides IT with EMC product code levels, connectivity status, capacity alerts, service activity by site and more.

EMC believes that data protection should be an integral part of the design and deployment of every data storage environment. Unity offers tight integration with EMC Data Domain and EMC Data Protection Suite to ensure that workloads are seamlessly protected. All-flash Unity options also qualify for EMC’s Xpect More program, offering lifetime maintenance price protection, flash endurance protection and three-year money-back warranty.

“EMC understands the needs of midsize organizations and has designed a purpose-built solution to help them modernize their data centers and gain the benefits of flash,” said Hicks. “With EMC Unity, midmarket companies gain an affordable flash storage platform with the flexibility, scalability and simplicity they need.”