EMC unveils ‘world’s first’ software-defined storage system

May 6, 2013 10:11 pm

As Middle East service providers and enterprise data centres grow to manage tens and hundreds of petabytes, the cost and complexity associated with managing them is becoming untenable for many businesses.

EMC’s new ViPR platform, due to be released later this year, is intended to manage storage infrastructure and the data residing within, allowing organisations to drive improvements in automation and lay down a modern storage architecture for future application deployments.

The idea is to allow service providers and IT departments to move towards the operational model of web-scale data centres without hiring thousands of technical experts to build a custom environment.

“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,” said Vernon Turner, Senior Vice President of Infrastructure Research Group at IDC.

“Customers want to extract more value from their storage investments while scaling back on management, and ViPR meets these needs while embracing open architecture and catering to all arrays,” he continued.

The EMC ViPR Controller (the Control Plane, which manages the storage infrastructure) can deliver improvements in automation because it virtualises the underlying storage infrastructure. Common storage management functions, like provisioning or migration, are abstracted so that different storage arrays can be managed as a single pooled resource in exactly the same way.

For management of these highly complex functions, the solution presents a single point-and-click approach. This is analogous to using a universal remote control in your living room to operate your TV, DVD, streaming device and DVR. Customers no longer need to engage in the complex and all-consuming task of interacting with multiple management interfaces that permeate heterogeneous storage arrays.

Once created, these pools of storage are carved up for consumption by applications. For this task, ViPR provides a self-service portal so application owners can browse the storage service catalogue and provision service resources best suited for their needs. This provides IT departments with the frictionless experience the application teams are looking for – and have become accustomed to – in public cloud environments.

For most traditional storage infrastructures, EMC ViPR will purely provide the Control Plane. It discovers storage, creates virtual storage pools, provisions those pools to the application and then gets out of the way; it is not in the data path – that is left to the array itself.

In the same way that operating systems are smart about detecting the presence of things like graphics co-processors (and offloading processing), the EMC ViPR Controller is smart about what it finds in the underlying storage infrastructure. If it can offload processing to the underlying array and leverage the intelligence there, it will.

“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,” explained Amitabh Srivastava, President, Advanced Software Division, EMC.

“Only by separating the data centre from its underlying hardware can IT truly deliver resources as customisable, on-demand services. As the only solution on the market today, ViPR is able to support IT services in a heterogeneous storage environment while retaining and extending the value of underlying arrays. This is a game-changer for storage,” he said.

First and foremost, EMC ViPR is designed for cloud environments and specifically service providers, however it is also suitable for the many enterprise IT departments that are transforming themselves to offer IT-as-a-service and building out internal web-scale clouds.

With this in mind, ViPR has a globally distributed architecture – enabling IT departments to avoid moving massive amounts of data across the network and perform functions like “in-place” analytics. The ViPR platform scales out as devices and data grows with no single point of failure and provides an entirely self-managing and self-provisioning environment.