EMC Strategy Update 2014 – Gateway to the Future.

ViPR signals the future of computing and now I understand this!

First a confession, sometimes it takes me a while to fully understand the impact of some technologies. I remember seeing the first iPod adverts and pondering why anyone would want to carry a hard disk drive around in their pocket!  Likewise when I first encountered ViPR, I thought neat way to manage storage… but it’s not going to change the world?  Like the iPod I have come to understand that this is industry changing. Big statement let me explain.

ViPR has two major components, a controller and data services.  The controller has had a lot of focus, as it was the most built out at release time. Fundamentally it provides virtualised storage and automated management across your whole environment. This gives you visibility into all your storage and a consistent way to manage it; resulting in lower costs and higher reliability. If you were sceptical you would say this is just the next generation of storage virtualisation, and it would be hard to argue that.

Now before highlighting the revolutionary power of the ViPR data services let’s make sure we are on the same page, with respect to the shift in IT technology that is currently underway. Analyst group IDC puts it succinctly as the movement from the 2nd platform to the 3rd platform. (Depicted below)

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This is the movement to an infrastructure that is capable of servicing billions of users, with millions of apps, (driven by social, mobile and big data computing), will look very different to current infrastructures. Enter the Software Defined Datacentre, where we use software to manage and control these elements, (ViPR controller). More importantly, to gain the scale and elasticity required a new hardware construct is required!

One example is illustrated by EMC’s acquisition of ScaleIO.  ScaleIO presents a virtual storage array, that is built from the storage in the servers that participate. Surely this competes directly with EMC’s core storage business today? Yes maybe, but if I need 1000 engines driving a massively parallel workload, I can’t achieve that simply with the hardware resilient architecture of ‘traditional’ storage arrays. While scale out architectures like Isilon scale to the hundreds of nodes, ScaleIO grows to thousands to support the 3rd Platform requirements.

So re-think ViPR in this context, today I am firmly in the 2nd Platform and I implement ViPR to gain control, lower cost and improve availability. Then I get a request to support a 3rd Platform application, let’s say Hadoop. Do I rush out and purchase dozens of servers or how do I plug in the HDFS Data Service into ViPR and support them immediately out of my existing hardware infrastructure?

Here was my ah-ha moment… as I grow my 3rd platform services, I deliver these as data services against existing hardware today and move into specialised or commoditised hardware infrastructures, depending on other factors, but without disruption! Now ViPR becomes a mechanism for me to co-exist in these worlds and move between them as need be. (After all there is still a lot of mainframes/1st Platforms in use today!).

So if I’m right what would you expect to see from EMC? Expect more ‘Data Services’ which will look like virtual versions of the current ‘hardware’ products that exist today!

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