VNX EMC Hardware Storage
Expanding VNX Drive Capacity

EMC VNX Hard Drives: Choosing the Right Capacity Expansion Strategy

In the ever-evolving landscape of data storage, businesses face the perpetual challenge of managing their growing data volumes. This challenge has only intensified in recent years with the exponential increase in digital information. EMC VNX hard drives have long been a trusted solution for organizations seeking efficient, reliable, and scalable storage. However, choosing the right capacity expansion strategy for your EMC VNX storage system is a critical decision that can impact your organization’s data management, performance, and budget.

This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the complexities of EMC VNX hard drive capacity expansion. We’ll discuss the various types of hard drives available, the factors to consider when choosing the right capacity expansion strategy, and best practices to optimize your EMC VNX storage infrastructure.

Understanding EMC VNX Hard Drives

Before diving into the capacity expansion strategies, it’s essential to understand the fundamentals of EMC VNX hard drives. EMC VNX is a line of unified storage systems designed to handle both file and block-level data efficiently. These systems offer various models, each with its own set of specifications and compatibility options. Central to these systems are the hard drives that store and manage your data.

Types of EMC VNX Hard Drives

EMC VNX systems support a range of hard drive types, each designed to address specific needs. Here are some common types:

  1. SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) Hard Drives: SAS drives offer high performance, low latency, and reliability. They are suitable for mission-critical applications and workloads that demand fast data access.
  2. NL-SAS (Nearline SAS) Hard Drives: NL-SAS drives provide a balance between capacity and performance. They are a cost-effective choice for storing large volumes of data with moderate performance requirements.
  3. SSD (Solid-State Drive) Hard Drives: SSDs are known for their exceptional speed and low latency. They excel in applications that require rapid data access, such as databases and virtualization environments.
  4. Flash Drives: Flash drives are a subset of SSDs optimized for ultra-fast performance. They are ideal for high-intensity workloads, including real-time analytics and data-intensive applications.

Capacity and Performance Considerations

When selecting hard drives for your EMC VNX system, you need to strike a balance between capacity and performance. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Capacity: Determine your current and future storage needs. Calculate how much data your organization generates and projects for the next few years. EMC VNX supports various drive capacities, so choose a size that aligns with your long-term storage requirements.
  2. Performance: Assess your workload requirements. If your applications demand high I/O (input/output) performance, consider using SAS or SSD drives. If cost-effective storage with acceptable performance is your priority, NL-SAS drives may be suitable.
  3. Tiering: EMC VNX systems support automated data tiering, allowing you to optimize performance and cost by placing data on the most appropriate drive type. For frequently accessed data, SSDs or SAS drives can be used, while less frequently accessed data can reside on NL-SAS drives.

Choosing the Right Capacity Expansion Strategy

Now that we’ve covered the basics of EMC VNX hard drives, let’s delve into the strategies for expanding your storage capacity effectively. Your choice should align with your organization’s specific needs, budget, and growth projections.

1. Scale-Up Strategy

The scale-up strategy involves adding additional hard drives or drive shelves to your existing EMC VNX storage system. This strategy is suitable when you have available drive slots and want to expand capacity without significant architectural changes.


  • Cost-effective as it utilizes existing hardware.
  • Minimal disruption to existing operations.
  • Can be implemented quickly.


  • Limited scalability, as it depends on the available drive slots.
  • Performance improvements may be limited, depending on the drive type added.
  • Potential for reaching system capacity limits in the long term.

Best Use Cases:

  • Organizations with moderate data growth.
  • When you need to expand capacity incrementally.
  • Suitable for environments where downtime must be minimized.

2. Scale-Out Strategy

The scale-out strategy involves adding additional EMC VNX storage arrays to your infrastructure. This approach allows you to scale both capacity and performance independently, making it highly scalable and flexible.


  • Scalability is virtually limitless, as you can keep adding arrays.
  • Enhanced performance with the ability to distribute workloads across arrays.
  • Ideal for organizations with rapid or unpredictable data growth.


  • Higher initial investment due to the purchase of additional arrays.
  • Requires more planning and management to ensure efficient load balancing.
  • Potential complexity in managing multiple arrays.

Best Use Cases:

  • Enterprises with aggressive data growth.
  • Environments with variable performance requirements.
  • Organizations seeking long-term scalability and performance.

3. Data Tiering Strategy

Data tiering is a dynamic strategy that involves classifying your data based on its access frequency and then placing it on the most suitable hard drive type. It optimizes performance and cost by ensuring that frequently accessed data resides on high-performance drives, while less active data is stored on cost-effective drives.


  • Maximizes the efficiency of existing storage resources.
  • Balances performance and cost effectively.
  • Suitable for organizations with varying data access patterns.


  • Requires advanced storage management software and monitoring.
  • Initial setup and data classification can be complex.
  • Frequent data movement can lead to increased latency.

Best Use Cases:

  • Environments with a mix of hot and cold data.
  • Organizations looking to optimize existing storage investments.
  • Workloads with varying performance demands over time.

4. Hybrid Strategy

A hybrid strategy combines elements of scale-up, scale-out, and data tiering to create a customized approach that fits your organization’s unique requirements. This approach provides the flexibility to adapt to changing data storage needs effectively.


  • Tailored to address specific capacity and performance demands.
  • Can accommodate both predictable and unpredictable data growth.
  • Offers a high level of flexibility and adaptability.


  • Complexity in planning and managing multiple strategies.
  • Requires a deep understanding of your organization’s evolving storage needs.
  • Potential for higher upfront costs due to customization.

Best Use Cases:

  • Organizations with complex storage requirements.
  • Environments where data access patterns vary widely.
  • Those looking for a fine-tuned approach to storage expansion.

Best Practices for EMC VNX Capacity Expansion

Regardless of the capacity expansion strategy you choose, there are several best practices to follow to ensure a successful implementation and long-term performance:

1. Thorough Planning

Before making any changes to your EMC VNX storage system, invest time in thorough planning. Understand your current storage capacity, performance bottlenecks, and projected data growth. This information will guide your capacity expansion strategy.

2. Regular Monitoring

Implement a robust monitoring system to keep track of your storage environment’s health and performance. This includes monitoring disk usage, I/O patterns, and overall system performance. Proactive monitoring allows you to identify and address issues before they impact operations.

3. Data Classification

If you choose the data tiering strategy, invest in advanced storage management software that can classify data based on access patterns. Regularly review and update these classifications to ensure optimal data placement.

4. Redundancy and Backup

Ensure that your capacity expansion strategy includes redundancy and backup mechanisms. Redundant hardware and data backups are critical to safeguarding against data loss and ensuring business continuity.

5. Scalability Testing

Before implementing any expansion strategy, perform scalability testing to assess how the changes will impact your environment. This can help you identify potential bottlenecks or issues that need to be addressed beforehand.

6. Consult EMC Experts

Consider consulting with EMC experts or certified professionals, like Pre Rack IT, who have experience with EMC VNX systems. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your specific needs.

Pre Rack IT Can Help!

Once you have analyzed the various factors, it’s time to implement your chosen capacity expansion strategy. Pre Rack can help you make the best decision.

Pre Rack IT offers EMC VNX hardware up to 70% less than manufacturer prices. We delivers cost-effective solutions that support IT lifecycle management, mitigate risk, and conserve budget.