EMC's ViPR Brings 'Software-Defined' to Storage Market
By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated September 04, 2013.
In a technology world where software-defined is the hottest buzzword since cloud computing, EMC is rolling out new technologies that aim to help IT infrastructure teams lead transformation projects.
As part of a 24-hour, around-the-world live launch, EMC announced its ViPR Software-Defined Storage Platform. The company is positioning the technology as a "critical enabler to speeding this transformation." It rolls out later this month.
Using ViPR, the company said its customers can manage both existing storage infrastructure (using the ViPR Controller) and the data residing within it (using ViPR Data Services). That sets the stage for improvements in automation and the foundation of a modern storage architecture for future application deployments.
Tapping a Macro IT Trend
Amitabh Srivastava, president of EMC's Advanced Software Division, called the launch a significant milestone for its vision to deliver customers the foundation on which to build a Web-scale data center capable of growing to 10s and 100s of petabytes of information.
"By delivering ViPR ahead of industry expectations, we will provide our customers with a lightweight, software-only approach to storage management and a foundation for next generation applications," he said. "This approach not only solves the problems they face today, but provides a path to the future."
ViPR will deliver Object Data Services -- a capability the company says sets the solution apart from the competition. ViPR Object Data Services offer support for multiple standard APIs including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift and Atmos. The tech also gives customers the ability to view objects as files, providing near-file access performance without the latency inherent in current object storage models.
"ViPR simplifies a very complex problem -- the management of heterogeneous storage environments while extending the functionality of existing storage arrays is truly powerful," said Laura DuBois, program vice president of Storage at IDC. "There's a macro trend in IT right now toward self-service, and ViPR is a first important step in making this real -- and easy."
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, to get his thoughts on the latest "software-defined" product roll out in the IT industry. He told us ViPR is essentially a storage virtualization technology -- and the term software-defined is overused today. Still, he said, there is a need for ViPR.
"When you think of the way customers historically deployed storage, they've had storage on individual arrays with varying degrees of utilization," Kerravala said. "When one array is full you can't pull storage from one system and move it to another. You've got to add more storage to it."
VIPR, he explained, allows a customer to create a virtual pool in which it has a single view for all of its storage. He compared the technology as a management overlay that offers a single view into the company's storage and called it an interesting idea.
"EMC's traditional storage business is being rapidly standardized so it's hard to create differentiation in just storage. The management tools have to be the place where EMC has to differentiate itself," Kerravala said.
"It's built on proprietary protocols and typically it's hard to get ecosystem support with proprietary standards, but EMC is a big enough player in the storage market that its share would almost force the ecosystem to comply with its standards," he said. "The 800-pound gorillas could make EMC's protocols their standard."