Dell Technologies World 2018 – Dell EMC Announces PowerMax

Disclaimer: I recently attended Dell Technologies World 2018.  My flights, accommodation and conference pass were paid for by Dell Technologies via the Press, Analysts and Influencers program. There is no requirement for me to blog about any of the content presented and I am not compensated in any way for my time at the event.  Some materials presented were discussed under NDA and don’t form part of my blog posts, but could influence future discussions.


[image courtesy of Dell EMC]


Dell EMC today announced PowerMax. Described as the next generation of VMAX, it’s been designed from the ground up to support NVMe. It’s being pitched as suitable for both traditional applications, such as:

  • Virtual Machines;
  • EMR;
  • Relational Databases; and
  • ERP.

And “next generation applications”, such as:

  • Real time analytics;
  • Genomics;
  • AI;
  • IoT; and
  • Mobile Applications.

From a performance perspective, Dell EMC tell me this thing can do 10M IOPS. It’s also been benchmarked delivering 25% better response time using NVMe Flash (compared to a VMAX AF using SAS Flash) and 50% better response time using NVMe SCM (Storage Class Memory). They also say that can get 150GB/s out of a single system.



  • Multi-controller
  • End to End NVMe
    • NVMe over Fabric Ready (soon)
    • NVMe based drives (dual ported) – Flash and SCM (*soon)
    • NVMe-based Disk Array Enclosure
  • Industry standard technology

[Image courtesy of Dell EMC]


Scalability and Density

Starts small, and scales up and out.

  • Capacity starts at 13TB (effective)
  • As small as 10U
  • Scales from 1 Brick
  • Scales to 8 Bricks
  • 4PB (effective) per system

[Image courtesy of Dell EMC]



From a storage efficiency perspective, a number of features you’d hope for are there:

  • Inline dedupe and compression – 5:1 data reduction across the PowerMax
  • No performance impact
  • Works with all data services enabled
  • Can be turned on or off by application



There are two different models: the PowerMax 2000 and PowerMax 8000.

PowerMax 2000

  • 1.7M IOPS (RRH-8K)
  • 1PB effective Capacity
  • 1 to 2 PowerBricks

PowerMax 8000

  • 10M IOPS (RRH-8K)
  • 4PB effective Capacity
  • 1 to 8 PowerBricks



PowerMax Software comes in two editions:


  • SnapVX
  • Compression
  • Non-disruptive Migration
  • QoS
  • Deduplication
  • iCDM Basic


The Pro edition gives you all of the above and

  • SRDF
  • D@RE
  • eNAS
  • iCDM Advanced
  • PowerPath
  • SRM

The PowerMax is available from May 7, 2018.



Dell EMC tell me the VMAX 250 and 950 series aren’t going away any time soon, but there will be tools made available to migrate from those platforms if you decide to put some PowerMax on the floor. PowerMax is an interesting platform with a lot of potential, hype around the quoted performance numbers notwithstanding. It seems like it takes a lot of floor tiles compared to some other NVMe-based alternatives, although this may be down to the scale of the platform. It stands to reason that the kind of folks interested in this offering are the same ones that were interested in VMAX All Flash. I’d be curious to see what the compatibility matrices look like for the existing VMAX tools when compared to the PowerMax, although I do imagine that they’d be a bit more careful about this then they have been with the midrange products.

You can read the press release from Dell EMC here, and there’s a blog post on PowerMax here.