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EMC Charts An Intelligent Path Through The Hedges: More ViPR, Flash And Big Data

After the big gush and splash of days in Vegas at EMCWorld 2014, we have had a few days to chew on the news and have come up with some interesting takeaways -

1. The most intriguing news was the acquisition of DSSD. This is an Andrew Bechtolschiem startup including a members of the great team that built ZFS.  Though the team was trotted out and warmly welcomed, there wasn't much technical detail previewed. At the very high-level they are doing something to provide a storage pool of server-side flash that will share and serve a "rack" of servers. This larger quantity of shared server-side flash will ostensibly offer a lot of performance acceleration and workflow optimization for big data and in-memory use cases.

Clearly EMC is making sure the market understands they are in the flash game 100%, no matter where the flash ends up in the architecture. And demonstrating that they are a master at acquiring tech pre-production, throwing down the guantlet, and then delivering within a year or two - XtremIO being a prime example given they went to #1 on all flash storage within 6 weeks of GA (recognizing the year or two of prepping the EMC base to ready it).

2. EMC continues to beef up ViPR. This year's 2.0 release takes last years "hedging bet" on virtualization and fledgling software defined storage into a real practical portfolio of storage solutions and data services. This year in addition to object storage, they've added ScaleIO block storage to ViPR. So now ViPR can be the clearinghouse for existing storage arrays (enhanced by new SWIFT API management) and now also for commodity disk hosted object and block. 

EMC's newly revamped SRM also shows up now as ViPR SRM, showing EMC's committment to making ViPR the central point of storage management, while carefully not upsetting the legacy storage apple cart - at least not all at once. EMC is betting on both the web style software defined storage world and the traditional enterprise storage world by straddling both. EMC's David Goulden was careful to indicate overall storage revenue may drop from less hardware sold over time, but their gross margin should increase with the current shift of some spend to the software storage world.

We need to call out EMC's latest storage array too - ECS!  ECS is a new EMC storage appliance announced to offer web-scale commodity hosted software defined storage.  Internally it's really the new ViPR with object and block (ScaleIO) data services implemented on commoditized servers and disks.  If you want to build a cloud like storage solution, here is a pre-built "converged" appliance to rack and stack as far scale-out as you might need.

3. EMC won't get left out in Big Data. Despite Hadoop and HDFS being designed for commodity DAS, there are still good reasons for enterprises to look at more sophisticated (i.e. CAPEX expensive) storage for big data. For example, Isilon has had more growth in HDFS storage use cases than in any other area.

Other storage vendors have maybe a narrowly scoped HDFS offering with some enterprise-y features for which clients can use to justify an alternative to commodity DAS-based storage. But EMC has announced they will have at least three sharp focused HDFS solutions to put them squarely in unstructured data growth on HDFS. These include Isilon which provides "workflow" HDFS externally (over OneFS internally), the DSSD acquistion above for high performance (but smaller big data sets) HDFS, and the new Elastic Compute Storage, which since it's ViPR also provides an HDFS interface for web-scale big data.

Take a note - if the Hadoop based data lake or data hub (ala Cloudera) takes root in traditional organizations, HDFS will still likely need to be more of an enterprise storage solution than a cluster of cheap disks and open source solutions.

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  • Premiered: 05/19/14
  • Author: Mike Matchett
Topic(s): EMC Big Data Elastic Storage software defined Flash Storage Virtualization


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