EMC Announces Unity – Part 2

I covered EMC‘s announcement of their new Unity platform in an earlier post, and thought it would be worthwhile following up on a few key points around data protection and protocol support.


Data Protection with Unity

You can do a bunch of the high level local and remote protection management through Unisphere, including:

  • Scheduling snapshots
  • Viewing system defined schedules
  • Modifying protection options
  • Customizing schedules based on your SLAs
  • Configuring replication
  • Managing replication operations such as session failover and failback
  • Viewing replication session states and statuses

Unified Snapshots provide:

  • Point-in-time snapshot copies of data;
  • Snapshots for both block and file resources (finally!); and
  • Snapshots are used as the foundation for native asynchronous replication on Unity.

The following table provides information on the limits with snapshots on the Unity platform.


You can asynchronously replicate file and block data from Unity to Unity or Unity VSA, VNXe, or vVNX. How do I get my VNX data onto the Unity array? EMC say that RecoverPoint is your best bet for array replication activities from the VNX1 or 2 to the Unity platform. If you’re looking at data migration options, the following table may help.



Protocols and Filesystems

There’s a fair bit of support for more “modern” iterations of SMB and NFS. These are outlined below:

SMB share options

  • Continuous Availability
  • Protocol Encryption
  • Access Based Enumeration (ABE)
  • Distributed File System (DFS)
  • Branch Cache
  • Offline Availability
  • Umask

Supported Features

  • Dynamic access control
  • Hyper-V shared VHDX
  • Antivirus

NFS V4.0 & 4.1

Unity introduces support for NFS v4.0 & 4.1

  • Functionality described in RFC 3530 & RFC 5661
  • Includes NFS ACL
  • Stateful protocol unlike earlier NFS versions

Note, however, the following exceptions

  • No pNFS
  • No directory delegation


Unity supports accessing NAS Servers via FTP and SFTP

  • This can be enabled and disabled independently
  • Accessible by Windows, Unix, and anonymous users

Access control lists

  • Enable or disable access for users, groups, and hosts

FTP/SFTP auditing can be configured on the NAS Server

  • Client IP, time of connection, uploaded/downloaded files
  • Log directory and maximum log size are configurable

EMC have also delivered a new scalable filesystem. This filesystem is a 64-bit filesystem that delivers range of file services, including:

  • Scalability to 64TBs;
  • Space efficient Snapshots;
  • The ability to shrink a file system and reclaim that space;
  • Support for up to 256 VMDK clones;
  • Fast failover;
  • In-Memory Log Replay is an improvement to the file system’s ability to quickly recover its state in the event of an ungraceful shutdown. The advantage of this is a faster failover time; and
  • Improved quota management

The following table provides some more information on the supported configuration maximums for filesystems across the Unity platform.



FAST Cache

The following options are available for FAST Cache configuration on the new Unity arrays.


Note also the following improvements (both of which I think are pretty neat from an operational perspective)

  • FAST Cache supports online expansion – up to the system maximum; and
  • FAST Cache supports online shrink – you now have the ability to remove all but 1 FAST Cache pair.


Maintenance Options

EMC have been paying attention to the like of Pure and Nimble with their long life maintenance programs designed to be a little kinder to customers wanting to keep their systems for more than five minutes. As such EMC customers can now “Xpect More” for all-flash systems, with Unity (all-flash) customers being guaranteed:

  • Lifetime maintenance pricing for their Unity all-flash;
  • Investment protection on flash drives that need to be replaced or repaired; and
  • Lifetime flash endurance protection.

Obviously I recommend reading the fine print about this program, but on the face of it it certainly warrants further investigation.



You’re probably asking if there is a CLI available for Unity, like naviseccli (Navisphere Secure CLI). After all, naviseccli is pretty awesome, and you’ve no doubt spent hours getting a bunch of stuff automated with just naviseccli and a dream. The good news is that yes, you can run UEMCLI commands from your workstation or via SSH on the system. The bad news is that previous custom scripts using naviseccli will not work using Unity UEMCLI.


Other Notes

Here are a few other points that I found interesting:

  • Inline compression is due before the end of the calendar year, and a deduplication option is yet to be made available for the platform.
  • There is a limit of 10 DAEs, 250 drives per bus (same as the VNX2).
  • Unity doesn’t have 60 or 120-drive DAEs, but there is a plan under consideration to support a higher number of drives.
  • Data At Rest Encryption (D@RE) is optional software that is only offered at the point of sale and cannot be enabled after the system is purchased. EMC don’t offer D@RE in certain restricted countries, including China and Russia.


Further Reading and Conclusion

[Update] There are a few nice articles that I didn’t see at the time of publication that I think are worth looking at. Dave Henry has a comprehensive write-up on Unity here, Rob Koper has some good coverage here, and Chris Evans has a typically thought-provoking article here that I recommend reading. Finally, Chad Sakac has a comprehensive write-up here that is well worth your time.

If you’ve had to use local protection tools on a unified VNX, you’ll be pleased to see the improvements that EMC have made with regards to coherent features and toolsets across file and block. Likewise if you’ve struggled with the lack of modern protocol support on previous unified offerings, then Unity will be a refreshing change. It’s a bummer that the CLI has changed, but this might be an opportunity to re-evaluate a number of the scripts you’ve been using to get things done previously. If nothing else, it should give me fodder for a few more blog posts along the lines of “I used to do x with naviseccli, now I do y with UEMCLI”. I’m looking forward to digging in further.