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EMC's ViPR Brings 'Software-Defined' to Storage Market
Posted September 4, 2013
EMC's ViPR Brings 'Software-Defined' to Storage Market
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By Jennifer LeClaire. Updated September 4, 2013 10:35AM

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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."

Really Software-Defined?

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."

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Duane Tursi:
Posted: 2013-09-24 @ 8:12am PT
There's no doubt that data centers as they exist today are in the midst of a massive transformation, truly a virtual upheaval. The virtualization era completely uncouples all assets around the data center into fundamental resources or building blocks comprised of memory, processor and disk. This shift paves the way for smart software to govern those assets in the best possible way for application performance, data protection and high availability. The prospect also exists for up-and-coming companies to seize this opportunity.

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