Editorial & Analysis
Also by this author
08 May 2013
The idea of separating management from infrastructure applies equally to the world of enterprise storage as it does to networking, according to executives at the information management giant.
EMC is placing a big bet that the philosophy that underpins software-defined networking (SDN) is equally applicable to the world of enterprise storage. This week, at its EMC World conference in Las Vegas, the information management giant unveiled ViPR, a software-defined storage platform that company executives claim will allow customers to build hyperscale data centres populated by large, centralised pools of storage, of the types pioneered by Facebook and Amazon.
Due for release in the second half of this year, ViPR abstracts storage pools from the underlying hardware arrays. It also echoes the SDN idea by separating what EMC executives describe as the ‘control plane’ of storage - provisioning, management and data migration services - from the ‘data plane’ of storage - the management of blocks, files, LUNs [logical unit numbers] and devices.
ViPR will integrate via application programming interfaces (APIs) with VMware’s Software Defined Data Centre and work with Microsoft and the OpenStack operating environments. It will offer a single view of EMC VMAX, VNX, Isilon and Atmos storage, as well as third-party and commodity arrays.
The idea is that businesses can decide the type of storage to allocate to a particular application workload, based on its individual performance, quality-of-service and cost requirements, carving up central pools of storage for consumption by multiple different applications. This is conducted via a self-service portal, offered to ‘application owners’ as a way to browse the storage service catalogue and provision the storage that best suits their needs. In the meantime, the control plane would manage the underlying storage arrays via policy-based automation.
In effect, the desired end-goal is an entirely self-managing and self-provisioning enterprise storage infrastructure.
“Building the web-scale data centre is critical for service providers and large enterprises. The rise of the Software-Defined Data Centre is a ground-breaking step toward delivering the management and performance capabilities needed to protect and leverage data,” said Amitabh Srivastava, president of the advanced software division at EMC, in an official statement. “This is a game-changer for storage.”
ViPR can be seen as EMC’s response to the ‘commoditisation’ and ‘cloudification’ seen in hyperscale data centre environments, where legions of cheap hardware are marshalled together as a common pool of resources, capable of providing computing power as a service, and there is less reliance on the management of individual elements of infrastructure, in favour of more policy-based automation via software.
It’s also a Big Data play, as ViPR enables organisations to run analytics ‘in place’ on existing commodity storage hardware - rather than in bespoke data warehouses, for example - via the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) Data Service.
Vernon Turner, an analyst with IDC, commented: "With the unveiling of ViPR, EMC is sending a clear message that the combination of arrays with a powerful software layer is unbeatable in terms of speed and simplicity. Customers want to extract more value from their storage investments while scaling back on management."