This week in Las Vegas, coinciding with the Interop IT Conference, EMC is making waves with its own EMC World event, introducing a variety of products including a new Software-Defined Storage platform for data centers. Dubbed ViPR, the new software technology aims to drive automation and lay down a modern storage architecture for future application deployments.
EMC noted that service provider networks and enterprise data centers have grown to tens and hundreds of petabytes, making the cost and complexity of managing them far too unreasonable. The company says its new ViPR technology will help ease the pain by improving the way data storage infrastructure is managed. The ViPR model aims to help service providers and IT departments move towards the operational model of "web-scale" data centers without hiring hundreds technical experts to build a custom environment.
"Building the web-scale data center is critical for service providers and large enterprises. The rise of the Software-Defined Data Center is a groundbreaking step toward delivering the management and performance capabilities needed to protect and leverage data," said Amitabh Srivastava, who is president of the Advanced Software Division at EMC. "Only by separating the data center from its underlying hardware can IT truly deliver resources as customizable, on-demand services."
A Stealth ViPR
EMC said ViPR is unique in that manages both the storage infrastructure (called the Control Plane) and the data stored within that infrastructure (called the Data Plane). The ViPR strategy also decouples the Control Plane from the Data Plane so IT can use both together or customers can use only the Control Plane to manage the underlying intelligence of the storage arrays through policy-based automation.
ViPR also offers service providers and IT departments the ability to view objects as files and provides file access performance without the latency inherent to object storage. The whole solution can be implemented entirely in software and will run with EMC hardware as well as non-EMC and commodity hardware.
With the ViPR Controller, common storage management functions, like provisioning or migration, are abstracted so that different storage arrays can be managed as a single pooled resource in exactly the same way. ViPR delivers a single point-and-click approach to managing these highly complex functions. EMC compared it to a universal remote control in your living room to operate your TV, DVD, streaming device and DVR.
Once created, these pools of storage are carved up for consumption by applications. For this task, ViPR provides a self-service portal so application owners can browse the storage service catalog and provision service resources best suited for their needs. This provides IT departments with the frictionless experience that application teams are looking for -- and have become accustomed to -- in public cloud environments.
Why the Wait?
For traditional workloads that use file and block, EMC ViPR steps out of the way and lets the underlying array fulfill the role of Data Plane, or the data stored within the storage infrastructure. This represents the majority of application workloads within the data center and EMC estimates those workloads will grow approximately 70 percent by 2016. But new application workloads are emerging -- often operating on Big Data -- and servicing tens of thousands or millions of users. EMC estimates these workloads will grow approximately 700 percent by 2016.
We asked Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, for his reaction to the news. He told us this is long awaited solution from EMC. In fact, he said, he's been expecting something that looks like this from EMC for a long while.
"The ViPR software creates a lot more flexibility and mobility of storage. If you look at what's gone on with server virtualization and software-defined networks, you could argue that storage, in some ways, was the one missing piece of the fully software-defined data center," Kerravala said. "With EMC being the storage vendor that they are, it was really up to them to deliver this type of functionality. I think the only surprise is that it took them so long."
EMC ViPR will be generally available in the second half of 2013.