EMC World: ViPR Software Defined Storage Launches

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

EMC’s ViPR makes cloud storage easy, says EMC boss Tucci

EMC has launched a “software defined storage” platform, ViPR, which provides a virtualised layer across storage resources, allowing customers to adopt new cloud storage services more easily alongside infrastructure.

The ViPR platform, presented by CEO Joe Tucci and other executives at EMC World in Las Vegas, automates traditional storage, making it look like a cloud based service, while providing easy interfaces for new Big Data applications.

As well as handling existing data storage, it provides new object data services provisioned using Amazon S3 or HDFS (the Hadoop distributed file system)  APIs. These services also integrate with OpenStack, and work with VMware’s Software Defined Data Center through industry standard APIs and interoperate with Microsoft and OpenStack.

EMC VIPR legend EMC pulseViPR virtual storage

“So what’s the big difference with ViPR?” asked Amitabh Srivastava, president of EMC’s advanced software division, rhetorically, on a blog. “It’s the ‘divide and conquer’ approach to the Data Plane and the Control Plane. ViPR uniquely manages both storage infrastructure (in the Control Plane) and the data stored within that infrastructure (in the Data Plane). ViPR decouples the two, allowing the use of both together – or enabling customers to use only the Control [Plane] to manage the underlying storage arrays.”

This means customers get the best of both worlds, he claimed, getting the top features of storage systems, without the expensive management overheads.

“Block, file and object storage run on top of ViPR as virtual services that still leverage the unique capabilities of the underlying arrays. This means that for traditional file and block storage platforms ViPR stays out of the data path, managing the underlying platforms without introducing any performance overhead.”

The ViPR Controller (the Control Plane) manages the storage infrastructure, virtualising the underlying storage infrastructure. Common 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.

Managing multiple underlying storage functions using point-and-click, the release says, is like using a universal remote control for TV and DVD devices in your living room (something this writer has never managed to get working, but that’s by the way).

Making legacy data like the cloud

EMC VIPR logo

ViPR provides a self-service portal, for application owners to order the storage they need, much as they would buy cloud services.

This side of ViPR is enough for traditional workloads which EMC says will grow by 70 percent by 2016 – but Big Data applications are growing at 700 percent, it says, and these will need the new object data services, which ViPR offers.

Some commentators welcomed the move: “The introduction of ViPR marks a major change in EMC, which profited from selling reliable, yet expensive storage systems,” commented Eric Lundquist on eWEEK.  “The ViPR service is just that: a software service that will collect information about storage resources, assemble those resources, allocate the storage resource where needed and manage the storage infrastructure.”

Others were more sceptical, pointing out the work needed under the covers: “This will, I reckon, need quite a level of disclosure from the haredware to ViPR,” said analyst Clive Longbottom of QuoCirca. “Will other vendors want to do this, particularly if they have their own software?”

Moving to a “software defined” message also makes an interesting contrast to pitches from would-be rival, HP, based around hardware advances.

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