EMC – Next-Generation VNX – Data In Place Upgrades

Approximately 4 or 500 years ago, I spent a number of nights in various data centres around the country upgrading customers’ CLARiiON arrays from CX200s to Cx500s, CX300s to CX3-20s, and so on. The neat thing about the CLARiiON was that EMC had a pretty reasonable way of doing data in place (DIP) upgrades, including across generations if required. With the introduction of the VNX, that changed. Primarily because of the switch from FC to SAS on the back-end. And with the “Next-Generation” VNX (VNX2), you also can’t go from VNX to VNX2. Which some people have been understandably unhappy about. The procedure hasn’t changed much over the years, and you can read Rob’s post here for a pretty thorough look at what’s involved.

So why would you want to do this anyway? Especially given that, if you’re upgrading a VNX5200 for example, you’ve probably only had the array in operation for a few years. Well, requirements change, companies grow, people need more horsepower. Sometimes EMC makes it a commercially viable option to do a DIP upgrade rather than replace the array with another one. There’re are a bunch of reasons.

I don’t want to go into exactly what the steps are, as your friendly EMC service folk or partner will be able to go through that with you, but I thought it might be an idea to share a few things to know prior to launching into one of these procedures (or even making the decision to upgrade in this fashion).

The supported source systems include:

  • VNX5200;
  • VNX5400;
  • VNX5600; and
  • VNX5800.

Note that you cannot convert a VNX7600, nor can you go from VNX to VNX2 (as I mentioned before). Also, the VNX8000 can’t be a source system, because that’s already as big as the VNX goes.

Supported targets for upgrade include:

  • VNX5400;
  • VNX5600;
  • VNX5800; and
  • VNX7600.

You can’t go to a VNX8000. You can also upgrade the type of array as follows:

  • Block to block;
  • File to file; and
  • Unified to unified.

You can’t convert from a block system to a higher performing unified system. You can, however, do a block conversion, and do a block-to-unified upgrade. It generally takes about six hours to complete a DIP conversion. As always, if you’re considering this approach, talk to EMC about it.