EMC World: EMC Teases Flash Fanatics With ‘Project X’

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EMC’s Project X isn’t a defined thing yet, but it looks certain to be an all-flash array that will arrive in beta form later this year

EMC has been teasing delegates at its EMC World conference today about what it is going to do with its XtremIO acquisition, but it is being reticent about the details of ‘Project X’.

From the details thus far, it appears Project X will deliver a fully-flash array sitting on the storage side of a data centre.

EMC president and chief operating officer Pat Gelsinger revealed a Project X offering will be going into beta in the fourth quarter of this year, with a general release set for 2013.

Thunder rolling away?

There have been questions over what would happen to Project Thunder, another EMC initiative that would do a very similar job to the XtremIO technology, but Gelsinger said the technologies would be complementary. That’s because one sits on the server side, whilst the other is on storage. One could assume having both would give IT teams some super speedy data mobility.

On the server side, EMC already has its VFcache PCIe NAND flash card , but it seems EMC feels it can offer companies extra value with a flash-based appliance at the server side, as well as an all flash array within a SAN (Storage Area Network).

EMC only officially confirmed the acquisition of XtremIO earlier this month, as it appeared to pip major rival NetApp in getting the Israeli flash storage company. Not too much is known about what XtremIO was working on as it had not even released a product on general availability when it was snapped up.

Gelsinger wasn’t giving away too much, but said there would be “many use cases” for XtremIO’s technology. “The use cases for an all-flash array really are the focused high-performance use cases.

“We needed to get the most differentiated technology for those classes of use cases… There’s a whole set of those players who are innovating in the all-flash space. Of all the technologies we looked at, the scale-out architecture of XtremIO rose above all of them as the most innovative architectural opportunity.”

Clive Longbottom, founder of analyst firm Quocirca, told TechWeekEurope he guessed XtremIO had “some pretty good patents” and EMC wanted to avoid any issues if it decided to re-engineer the young company’s kit.

“For half a billion dollars, which is a bit of loose change for Joe Tucci, you can buy the technology, get the company and then do something with it,” Longbottom said. “I don’t think Project X will come out with anything that is completely standalone different. I think it is a case of this hybrid environment that tries to bring together the server and the storage.

“What you’d be looking at is rather than having flash as just a tier, it would be used as a staging post as well.”

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