Building the Storage Infrastructure Platform for the Future

We formed EMC’s Advanced Software Division two years ago to build products that not only address today’s customer needs but also provide a foundation for the future.

As we honed our ASD product roadmap, we talked to a large number of enterprise customers to learn about what they consider essential. During these discussions, we consistently heard that customers care about three things when looking to the future:

  1. It’s all about data growth.  Mobility, social media and new application developments are driving a surge in data growth.  As storage is primarily managed in silos with manual processes, OPEX is growing proportionally to data growth thereby making it impossible to manage within existing budgets.
  2. Their environments are inherently complex—customers have to worry about cost, security, latency, compliance, data protection etc.  They need to retain the choice of what systems and vendors to use that best meets their business requirements—one size doesn’t fit all.
  3. They like the cost economics and simplicity of the public cloud and want to attain them but without the corresponding public cloud constraints. However, they don’t want rip-and-replace; they want to protect their investments and need a path to the future.

The industry analysts are echoing what we heard from our customers. For example, leading industry analysts describe the transformation occurring in the IT industry in terms of the three platforms.


The design point for each of these platforms is different. For example, the 3rd Platform will require massive scale as evidenced by the variation in the number of users on each platform: there are millions of users on the 1st Platform, hundreds of millions on the 2nd Platform and billions of users on the 3rd Platform.  This requires the design points for the products developed for each of these platforms to be different as well.

Public cloud providers have done a great job in providing a solution for some workloads for the 3rd Platform. They deliver the simplicity and the cost-effectiveness to achieve the needs of the 3rd Platform by providing massive scale with almost minimal human intervention.  They do this by leveraging standardization, but it comes at the cost of limiting choice.

Today’s reality is that the majority of the IT industry is still on the 2nd Platform and is only beginning the process of moving to the 3rd Platform.  As a result, the IT industry needs products today to address the challenges they are facing with massive data growth on the 2nd Platform.  However, they also need a solution that allows them the opportunity to move to the 3rd Platform so they can protect their investments and transition on their schedule.

We have built a solution that addresses what our customers asked for: reduces their OPEX in the presence of massive data growth, gives them choice, and provides a seamless path to the 3rd Platform.  Based on my experience in building and running a public cloud, I believe that one can build a solution that attains the capabilities of the public cloud without the constraints of location and choice.

This is precisely what we have delivered with ViPR.

ViPR is software-defined storage and is built as an open platform.  It is lightweight and cloud is its design point.  ViPR, I believe, is the only product that addresses the needs of customers on the 2nd Platform today but also provides a seamless path to the 3rd Platform.

Now that we have bridged the gap between the 2nd and the 3rd Platform with ViPR, we are now looking ahead to products for the 3rd Platform.  One of them is Project Nile. Project Nile is cloud storage that customers can run on their own premises with all the cloud characteristics of simplicity and cost.  It will support block, file, object and HDFS all in a single appliance at a price point less than that of the public cloud providers.  Over time, we will continue to introduce more solutions targeted at the 3rd Platform.

As the IT industry trends toward software-defined everything, it is software-defined storage that will enable this evolution from the 2nd to the 3rd Platform and EMC’s Advanced Software Division is uniquely poised to help our customers make the transition.

About the Author: Amitabh Srivastava