LAS VEGAS — EMC has announced EMC ViPR, its splash announcement at this year’s EMC World. EMC has big plans for this new Software Defined Storage Platform, which was formerly known as Project Bourne. But exactly if, or where, the channel will fit in, at least in the short term, has not yet been defined.
“The big news of the show is ViPR,” said Jeremy Burton, EVP Product Operations and Marketing at EMC. “This has been at least two years in the making.”
EMC is not the first vendor to bring a Software Defined Storage to market, but Amitabh Srivastava, President of the Advanced Storage Division and EMC, who Burton termed the brains behind the ViPR project, thinks it is the best designed.
“The term Software Defined Storage is overused, to the point no one knows what that really means,” Srivastava said. He said that EMC’s perspective on it is looking at the problem holistically and looking at challenges enterprises and service providers deal with today. Customers, he added, were asking for a choice of storage systems to meet business needs. They want ways of controlling expenses. They want a seamless transition to the cloud. And they also want an open environment.
“VIPR is simple, it is extensible and it is open, and it addresses each of those customer issues,” Srivastava said.
ViPR was built first and foremost for service providers, although it will also appeal to large enterprise datacenters. It is designed around cloud, multi-tenancy, and globally distributed systems of tens and hundreds of petabytes.
“It is a very lightweight software solution – not an appliance – which runs in a virtual environment, and abstracts storage and all its abstract capabilities from the underlying hardware,” said Vikram Bhambri, Senior Director Product Management, EMC Advanced Storage Division. “It creates a very large single pool of storage regardless of the type of platform.”
What really sets ViPR apart is its ability to both manage storage infrastructure (the Control Plane) and the data residing within that infrastructure (the Data Plane), Bhambri said. Decoupling the Control Plane from the Data Plane is completely different from other attempts to virtualize storage, and will enable customers to use only the Control Plane to manage the underlying intelligence of the storage arrays through policy-based automation.
“The big difference here is that we focus on the Control Plane – so it’s easier to manage – and we don’t have to dumb things down by doing the underlying platform,” Bhambri said. “Others have done it [Software Defined Storage] with hardware as well, which limits the capabilities. This is a pure software play.”
Being a pure software play will give ViPR full interoperability with non-EMC and commodity hardware as well as EMC hardware.
“It will let you manage EMC arrays, third party arrays and commodity storage, which is critical, especially for service providers,” Burton said.
Along with the ViPR platform, EMC is also unveiling Object Data Services, the first of what EMC says will be a series of new data services provided as part of the platform. ViPR Object Data Services will provide Amazon S3 and OpenStack Swift compatible REST APIs and HDFS access methods, which EMC says will be increasingly important as access methods change from traditional protocols such as NFS and iSCSI. ViPR Object Data Services will support existing EMC Atmos, EMC VNX and EMC Isilon arrays as a persistence layer in addition to third party arrays and commodity hardware.
“Customers can get Object Data Services without adding any other costs,” Bhambri said. “Over time, other data services will be added.”
Availability is scheduled for the second half of this year, but for the channel there is a catch.
“We will be working with some service providers at the start,” Bhambri said. “We are looking at going to market through other channel partners, but no date for availability has been set yet.” Pricing, like channel strategy, is also being worked on at the moment.
EMC also made less dramatic announcements updating two management suite products, both of which have a connection to ViPR. Storage Resource Management suite 2.0 extends platform support, provides new functionality for the VNX platform, has some new functionality for admins to view, and more preconfigured reports for dashboards.
“The linkage with VIPR is that it is now easier to traverse from the logical view to the physical view because of strong integration with ViPR,” Bhambri said.
The Service Assurance Management suite benefits admins in the same way.
“It now gives the capability to look across the entire infrastructure,” said Chris Ratcliffe, VP of Marketing, EMC Advanced Storage Division. “The Service Assurance suite extends this into the virtual suite through the network and subset of compute. You can see how service levels are being affected through resource use. ViPR makes life much simpler for admins through abstraction.”