EMC Has the Industry’s Strongest Software-Defined Storage Portfolio, AND, It Just Got A Lot Stronger

Since the announcement of ViPR 1.0 at EMC World 2013, it’s been a non-stop flurry of activity here at RS-New-Image-2EMC and the last month has been no exception. We announced one all-new product and three significant updates to existing products at EMC World 2014, all of which shipped in the last few weeks of June. With the general availability of the ECS Appliance (Powered by ViPR), ViPR 2.0, ViPR SRM 3.5 and Service Assurance Suite 9.3 we have strengthened our Software-defined Storage portfolio and brought public-cloud hyperscale capabilities and economics to everyone.

These are some pretty strong claims and it would be easy to dismiss them as standard marketing hyperbole as, let’s be honest, pretty much every storage sales guy or startup is probably saying the same thing to their customers. The difference with EMC is that at this point, these are all-new products. We haven’t just taken the marketing hype around Software-defined Storage and applied it to a bunch of existing platforms. We’ve built two truly differentiated Software-defined Storage platforms from the ground up and applied a lot of what we learned during the process to significantly enhance our existing products.

What Do Customers Want?

Throughout the ViPR development process, (which started in 2011), customers have given us very consistent feedback on what they need from their storage vendors, and it boils down to three core things:

1. Help me reduce my costs.
2. Give me freedom of choice.
3. Give me a simple path to the cloud.

This gave us a very clear idea of the product capabilities required in ViPR:

1. With ViPR, customers should be able to build a truly modern storage infrastructure on commodity platforms.
2. ViPR should make it very easy to manage any storage infrastructure from a cluster of two arrays to a truly hyperscale, multi-Petabyte environment.

Those two things are, in my opinion, the true value that EMC’s advanced software portfolio brings to our customers, (it also answers the often asked question “What exactly is ViPR?”)

The Value of EMC Advanced Software Today
With these latest product releases, if you want to build a modern storage infrastructure on commodity hardware, then EMC gives you the ability to do it. If you need to manage, provision and provide self-service storage capabilities at hyperscale (regardless of whether you’re dealing with commodity platforms or existing storage platforms from vendors as diverse as EMC, HDS, NetApp or anybody else), then EMC gives you the ability to do it.

Let’s Talk About Our Software Portfolio – Starting with The Hardware??
Mentioning the Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliancein the same breath as our software portfolio may seem like a contradiction in terms, but please keep two key details in mind:

1. It’s an appliance. Being your own system integrator adds cost, if you want an integrated system and access to the economies of scale of EMC – the ECS Appliance is the most simple, cost effective way for most* customers to get ViPR on commodity platforms.
2. It’s powered by ViPR 2.0 – the secret sauce in the ECS Appliance is ViPR. All the hardware components can be bought off the shelf, so really, think of the appliance as the delivery mechanism.
*If you can do the integration and get better economics from building your own hardware, please do. We’re more than happy to work with you e.g. the HP SL4540 is already supported.

What this means for our customers is that the ECS Appliance is the world’s first commercially available hyperscale storage infrastructure designed for the data center. It fundamentally redefines storage economics and provides all the benefits of the public cloud with effortless control. It’s now easy for any business to grow to Petabyte or even Exabyte scale without compromising on capability or flexibility.

The ECS Appliance provides all the benefits of the public cloud (cost, simplicity, scalability) with all the security and control inherent to private clouds/ internal IT departments. Let’s not forget about Service Providers either. If you’re a Service Provider and want to compete with the big boys in the public cloud, the ECS Appliance can give you more functionality at a cost basis that allows you to compete and still make money.

There’s More To Storage Than Just Storage
Delivering storage on commodity platforms and making it very simple to manage your entire storage infrastructure only solves one part of the problem – that of active management. To many of our customers the problem of just understanding what their storage environment (and beyond) really looks like and what it’s being used for is a critical concern. As storage environments become increasingly large, the importance of managing across the physical and virtual boundaries of multi-vendor environments has become exceedingly important. As a result, the ability to gain deep visibility into their infrastructure has become mission critical to many of our customers.

In many of the customer environments I visit today, whenever there’s a problem or outage, the atmosphere can quickly turn from one of calm to something resembling a scene from Apollo 13. Instead of having the ability to determine what’s actually causing an issue, it generally turns into multiple teams explaining why they are NOT causing the problem.

Over the last year, we’ve invested heavily in some of our existing products, most notably, ViPR SRM and the Service Assurance Suite to apply many of the insights we gained building ViPR to these new product releases in order to deliver automated real-time human intelligence at computer speed/scale and to provide the deep visibility our customers need across their entire environment.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the product features now generally available to customers with the shipment of these new products.

EMC ViPR 2.0 shipped June 26, 2014 containing the following key features:

• Support for commodity hardware
• Consistent data reliability and security across the entire data center
• Native array support for HDS (Hitachi Data Systems) and third-party plug-ins (e.g., Cinder) that enable support for numerous non-EMC platforms from vendors as diverse as HP, Dell, IBM and NetApp
• Content-Addressable Storage (CAS) support as well as support for EMC Centera systems
• Industry-leading, patent-pending Geo-distribution and protection capabilities
• Multi-tenancy support, detailed metering, an intuitive self-service portal, and billing integration
• The addition of ViPR Block Services (Powered by ScaleIO server-SAN software)

The EMC ECS Appliance became generally available on June 26, 2014 containing the following key features:

• Support for next-generation multi-protocol applications in a single platform which delivers block, object, and HDFS capabilities
• Single management view across multiple types of infrastructures
• Multi-site, active-active architecture with a single global namespace enabling the management of a geographically distributed environment as a single logical resource using metadata-driven policies to distribute and protect content
• Multi-tenancy support, detailed metering, and an intuitive self-service portal, as well as billing integration
EMC ViPR SRM 3.5 shipped June 13, 2014 with these enhanced capabilities:
• Deeper integration with the ViPR Controller including the ability to map Virtual Storage Pools, Projects, and Tenants to the underlying physical infrastructure
• Tighter integration with EMC VPLEX, including end-to-end topology mapping and capacity reporting for VPLEX-enabled environments
• Detailed chargeback reporting for VPLEX and ViPR, allowing ViPR tenants/projects to view chargeback reports based on Virtual Pool consumption

EMC Service Assurance Suite 9.3 shipped June 24, 2014 containing the following key features:

• Support for VMware NSX SDNs (Software-defined Networks)
• Application/process awareness & monitoring
• Integration with ViPR SRM to provide Availability Management of EMC Arrays (including storage connectivity)
• Enhanced Operator UI featuring a new use-case and role-based design
• Mobile networks (e.g. LTE) performance monitoring & reporting

These new features will give our customers the ability to actively manage and monitor their entire infrastructure at unprecedented levels, allowing them to better control costs even as data growth continues at extraordinary rates.

Simply stated, with the delivery of these products, the strongest Software-defined Storage portfolio in the industry just got stronger.

About the Author: Chris Ratcliffe