Storage Transformation Demands New Thinking (When it Comes to Software-Defined Storage, if it Walks like a Duck and Quacks like a Duck, It Still Might be a Pig!)

Posted by Rich Simmons | Author Info

Jul 21, 2014 9:00:00 AM

We live in interesting times right now in the storage business. What was once considered a “boring” sector of IT is now hot again. We have new vendors entering the market at a furious pace, trying to gain position in all-flash, flash attach, and software-defined storage. Additionally, we also have traditional storage incumbents looking to box out the new entrants through different combinations of product re-brand, acquisition and/or partnerships.

The new vendor entrants are the most fun to watch in my opinion. Unencumbered by installed bases, or legacy technology (or politics!) they are free to try new approaches to long-standing issues and roadblocks that always emerge as technology matures. Some new players have truly unique and interesting solutions; others have only marketing spin. 

Watching some of the traditional storage vendors try to counter these new offerings is generally quite amusing, and in some cases just plain sad. They trot out technology that has been around for years declaring it to be Software-Defined, and Cloud ready or whatever they think will make them most relevant. The most common response I see is the re-brand. You know the drill: product XYZ was our storage virtualization/storage OS product for years, but now it’s called product ZYX and it’s software-defined storage because we dropped the hardware requirement! So it’s now Software-Defined Storage (SDS)?

It all just serves to remind me why I work where I do. One of the great things about working for EMC is the company’s ability to blend both the innovation and enthusiasm of a startup with our traditional storage business. My group, the Advanced Software Division is a great example of this. EMC looked out over the storage landscape some years ago and made a pretty bold bet. They did not choose to re-purpose and re-brand existing technology. Rather they went outside the box (literally outside the company walls) and hired Amitabh Srivastava to build it from the ground up. Now Amitabh was building cloud storage in his last gig, so he has been in on this SDS, cloud ready stuff for a while. EMC was listening to our customers tell us they needed a new approach, and that’s what we went out and did, starting from scratch to develop a solution that could help customers transition to the next storage generation.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, software-defined data center, HDFS, OpenStack

EMC World 2014, An Advanced Software Perspective

Posted by Mark A. O'Connell | Author Info

Jul 14, 2014 9:00:00 AM

EMC World 2014 took place in early May 2014 and it was made clear that the world of storage is changing, driven by industry-wide trends larger than any single company. In a time of great change, companies can be left behind, branding yesterday's technologies as today's answers, or companies can adapt, break out of their comfort zone, and do the hard work of rethinking their offerings and delivering new products to meet today's (and tomorrow's) challenges.

EMC World 2014 showed exactly what path EMC is taking.

The week opened with a keynote from Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, where he clearly laid out the upcoming storage challenge - a 10x growth in storage consumption over the next seven years (from 4.4 to 44 Zettabytes), with a corresponding 5x growth in storage managed per administrator by the end of the decade. The conclusion is clear - without increasing intelligence in the storage and storage management arenas, together with increased automation and self-managing storage arrays, we will drown in a vast sea of underutilized or useless data.

Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC viewing an ECS Appliance demo at the Advanced Software Division Booth at EMC World 2014

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform

EMC Has the Industry’s Strongest Software-Defined Storage Portfolio, AND, It Just Got A Lot Stronger

Posted by Christopher Ratcliffe | Author Info

Jul 8, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Since the announcement of ViPR 1.0 at EMC World 2013, it’s been a non-stop flurry of activity here at EMC and the last month has been no exception. We announced one all-new product and three significant updates to existing products at EMC World 2014, all of which shipped in the last few weeks of June. With the general availability of the ECS Appliance (Powered by ViPR), ViPR 2.0, ViPR SRM 3.5 and Service Assurance Suite 9.3 we have strengthened our Software-defined Storage portfolio and brought public-cloud hyperscale capabilities and economics to everyone.

These are some pretty strong claims and it would be easy to dismiss them as standard marketing hyperbole as, let’s be honest, pretty much every storage sales guy or startup is probably saying the same thing to their customers. The difference with EMC is that at this point, these are all-new products. We haven’t just taken the marketing hype around Software-defined Storage and applied it to a bunch of existing platforms. We’ve built two truly differentiated Software-defined Storage platforms from the ground up and applied a lot of what we learned during the process to significantly enhance our existing products.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, 3rd Platform, ViPR, ScaleIO, ECS Appliance

Taking a Deeper Look at EMC’s ECS Appliance Pricing Model

Posted by Art Min | Author Info

Jun 30, 2014 2:46:48 PM

At EMC World, EMC announced that customers who purchase the ECS Appliance should expect between 9% and 28%* lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) when compared to public cloud storage services. As this represents a large range, I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify how we came to these numbers. I won't cover the specifics of pricing or costing public cloud storage (that information is readily available on the vendor websites), but instead, I will focus on the model for ECS.

The ECS Appliance consists of a scale-out commodity-based hardware platform from EMC running the ViPR 2.0 software. This provides our customers with all the software-defined functionality of ViPR in an easy-to-buy and deploy hardware appliance. Customers have a choice of form factors that can address a broad range of needs in terms of raw capacity (360TB, 1.4PB or 2.9PB) and capabilities (Object, HDFS or Block).

Alternatively, qualified customers can purchase the ViPR 2.0 software and deploy on a broad range of EMC-certified third party commodity hardware. With this model, customers can rack and stack their own gear while deploying and managing ViPR Software-Defined Storage. For this analysis, I’ll compare a public cloud storage-as-a-service (STaaS) solution with operating the ECS Appliance at comparable scale. 

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, ECS Appliance

Service Assurance Suite 9.3 GA Accelerates SDN with VMware NSX

Posted by Rick Walsworth | Author Info

Jun 26, 2014 9:30:00 AM

EMC Service Assurance Suite became generally available on June 24, 2014, delivering an entirely new set of capabilities, including Software-Defined Network (SDN) management via full integration with VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform. Service Assurance 9.3 also features completely new operations User Interface, deeper application integration and improved storage monitoring for VMware environments.

The Service Assurance Suite 9.3 represents a significant milestone because it provides the next significant innovation for helping to accelerate deployment of Software Defined Data Centers. Service Assurance Suite is a foundational component of that strategy building upon the core operations tools that have been successfully deployed within the world’s largest Enterprise and Service Provider data centers. The capabilities delivered within this release bring industries best fault correlation and root cause analysis engine to software-defined networks by providing fault, availability and performance management across both virtual and physical networks. This is critical for organizations looking to deliver the benefits of virtualized network infrastructure, while seamlessly integrating these disruptive technologies into the disciplined operational models of their data centers.

It’s all about Service Delivery

Customers that have deployed Service Assurance Suite are great testimonials on how to deploy next generation services with utility-like efficiency, while delivering carrier-class visualization across the entire data center. This requires intelligent fault analysis and event correlation, providing rapid root cause identification to optimize availability, configurations and performance. These capabilities help to bridge the gap between 2nd and 3rd Platform architectures without sacrificing service levels delivered back to the business.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, VMware, ViPR, storage management

The Rise of the "Internet of Things"

Posted by Mark A. O'Connell | Author Info

Jun 23, 2014 9:15:04 AM

As we continue to rethink storage and its changing role in the industry, it is also valuable to examine the changing trends in the industry to predict how the role and use of storage will need to change in response to the industry. Storage system architecture and design cannot remain static in the face of changes surrounding it, rather, it must adapt to meet the new use cases and traffic patterns.

One such emerging trend which will dramatically impact storage architecture is the rise of the "Internet of Things", or IoT. What is the IoT? Simply put, the IoT refers to a world where all manner of everyday items have a capability to monitor themselves and to communicate their status via external networks (see Gartner definition). What kinds of items would do this?

a. Smart devices. We have seen already a growing level of function and intelligence in consumer technology in the form of tablets, phones, e-readers, and the like, with connected watches and glasses not far away. These devices achieve their maximum value when internet connected and serve as a two-way, personalized portal for the user.
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Topics: Internet of Things

Leveraging the EMC Design Partner Program to Create Easy-to-Use Software-Defined Storage and Networks

Posted by Mary Beth Raven | Author Info

Jun 16, 2014 9:00:00 AM

As storage moves to becoming more defined through software, it means that storage administrators spend less time with the actual hardware boxes, and more time in front of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and Command Line Interfaces (CLIs). The storage administrators’ experiences with the software influences their overall assessment of and attitudes towards the entire product. That’s why the User Experience Design group in the Advanced Software Division is working to make the software user interfaces for EMC ViPR, ViPR SRM, and Service Assurance (SA) Suite, as easy to use as possible.

We start by understanding that there is no such thing as “universal ease of use.” A product is only usable by a certain set of people, and we need to understand the skill sets and motivations of our users – the storage administrators. To build our understanding, we recently started a “Design Partner” program in which customers volunteer to spend several hours a month with us, whether that is having us come onsite for visits, or simply having conference calls with screen sharing. Design Partners have the opportunity to shape the product in its early stages, and develop working relationships with the product designers and developers.

We leverage the Design Partner Program to inform us in the following ways:
• To help understand the job role in general and to create personas epitomizing the job requirements
• To provide general feature input about the upcoming and future releases
• To give us specific usability feedback on the upcoming release.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, 3rd Platform

Data and the Path Best Traveled

Posted by Neil Salamack | Author Info

Jun 9, 2014 9:00:00 AM

You’ve spent a lot of time and money to deliver the best application performance and availability to the business. Your efforts have included investments in the latest technology regarding storage arrays, servers, and switches. This has all been required to deliver a powerful virtual environment that will handle the needs of the business now and with an eye towards the future. You are confident that scaling to thousands of virtual machines per server won’t be an issue. But the question remains, “Is my environments capability being maximized”?

What is I/O Multipath Management…..Why Should I Care?
I/O multipathing is the ability to manage, load balance, and queue up multiple I/O paths in both physical and virtual environments. The problem faced especially with virtual environments is that as the rate of consolidation grows, the efficiency of path management affects both performance and ultimately application availability. Think of your I/O multipath management software as the “traffic cop” that is constantly directing I/O and balancing loads to and from hosts, switches and SAN’s. This job is especially critical in virtualized environments running intensive OLTP (Online Transaction Processing) applications such as SQL Server, Oracle, Virtual Desktop, and Cloud Services. As you add more virtual machines, native multipathing applications have difficulty scaling and this often manifests as latency or outages in the field.
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Topics: Virtual Environments

Building Hyper Scale Storage on Commodity Platform with ECS Appliance Powered by ViPR

Posted by Kamalavasan Srinivasan | Author Info

Jun 2, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Enterprises and hosters’ alike are driven to the third platform with growing number of cloud based mobile and social applications. This has resulted in an explosion of data for customers from terabyte to petabyte and even exabyte in some scenarios. For example, an insurance company delivering their claim processing application through mobile app would result in massive data growth with images and claim forms. Building and managing a storage platform at this scale entails a few key challenges, namely:

  • Ability to be in control of the data
  • Lead times associated with storage allocation
  • Storage capacity and performance metrics across data centers
  • Cost of managing hyper-scale heterogeneous storage
  • Storage integration with cloud stacks (compute, and networking)
  • End-to-end visibility 

ECS Appliance powered by ViPR addresses these challenges for building storage geared towards the 3rd Platform. At EMC World 2014, we announced the EMC ECS Appliance powered by ViPR. General availability of both ECS Appliance and ViPR 2.0 is in June 2014. In this blog, we’ll look briefly at an ECS overview and advantages for administrators and developers.

ECS Appliance is the hardware that is built for hyper scale environments. The hardware can be purchased for serving only unstructured storage (Object, HDFS), or for serving a mixed workload (Object/HDFS + Block).

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, ECS Appliance

The 3rd Platform Revolution: Who's Making Dust, and Who's Eating It - IDC Reveals Top Trends for 2014

Posted by Ilya Leybovitch and Kate Greenough | Author Info

May 27, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Expectations for Agility, Mobility, and Insight
If you drive business through mobile devices, cloud services, social networks or big data analytics you are part of what IDC, a leading industry analyst firm, refers to as the 3rd Platform of IT evolution. The 3rd Platform is architected for hyperscale, which is capable of managing billions of users and millions of applications.

Are IT vendors meeting 3rd Platform expectations?
Companies like Apple, Cisco, EMC, and Rackspace are investing time, research, and some of the brightest minds to bring the 3rd Platform into our work places. The 3rd Platform was a theme of the IDC Directions 2014 IT technology conference in March.

Frank Gens, Senior VP and Chief Analyst, in his opening session “Key Battles – and Strategies – for Dominance on the 3rd Platform” said: 
  • 2014 will bring pitch battles to establish new leadership in the 3rd Platform.
  • In the next 24 months we will see a doubling of overall Data Center footprint; cloud infrastructure.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform