ViPR, the software-defined storage platform that EMC announced at last May’s EMC World 2013, started shipping a couple of days ago and has one signed customer and five pending, “true enterprise and household-name customers,” said Chris Ratcliffe, VP, Marketing, Advanced Software Division, EMC. However, rather than celebrating its release and a handful of contracts, the storage giant is promoting a major push to attract partners to drive its SDS initiative.
EMC is announcing: ViPR Central, an online information resource for supporting customers, partners, and developers; EMC Developer Network (EDN) for ViPR Data Services which provides a central hub to download ViPR SDKs, documents and resources; and EMC ViPR GitHub Community for developers to download ViPR software tools and developer kits.
“I think we’re right about on time for this,” said Ratcliffe. “Customers are very clear with us that they want software-defined data centers. They want their data centers to have all the qualities of software at scale [and]… in order to do that, you have to have software-defined compute, software-defined network and software-defined storage.”
He said the compute portion is largely solved, and networking is on the way to being solved, but storage has been lagging, because it is a lot more complex than the other two. “There are different access methods, a ton of different problems being solved by storage… and data has gravity… a lot of weight and volume. That makes it orders of magnitude more complex.”
The demand is there for software-defined storage and EMC thinks they have solved it. “We are the 800-pound gorilla in storage and if we don’t do it, who will?”
According to EMC, ViPR abstracts storage and its capabilities from physical arrays into a single pool of virtual storage, transforming storage into a dynamic, hyper-scale virtual environment that responds to new use cases and workloads. It centralizes storage management across both physical and virtual storage environments and enables the integration of non-EMC storage, cloud stacks, and data services into a user’s virtual storage environment.
The early reviews on ViPR were pretty positive. Overall, ViPR is a service provider “play”, with multi-tenancy and global distribution, but the point is to enable enterprises and service providers to offer storage services to their clients without big adoption hurdles, said Taneja Group’s Mike Matchett. ViPR in turn offers its own API for integration into newer and larger services that can benefit or leverage storage pooling, especially SDDC kinds of solutions.
Aberdeen Group’s Robert Bready said ViPR validates the software-defined storage marketplace. It allows growing storage environments the ability to offer their users and customers more data services at an affordable price, reducing capital expenditures.
While ViPR may be the best execution of software defined storage, it is not earth shattering, noted George Crump, Lead Analyst, Storage Switzerland. That is until you add in the data services aspect. “The combination of hardware abstraction, provisioning services and unique data services offerings (object and HDFS) may be a first in the software defined market and certainly raises the bar considerably.”
EMC ViPR is a new approach to delivering storage that transforms an existing multi-vendor storage infrastructure into a simple, extensible, and open software-defined storage platform, blogged EMC’s Sal DeSimone, VP and CTO, Advanced Software Division. With ViPR, enterprises and service providers can deliver storage-as-a-service for about a penny per GB per month. He calls the latest announcements “a major milestone”.
In an interview with IT Trends & Analysis, DeSimone said there are three elements to the developer outreach. The first is what EMC calls northbound integration, helping customers who have a ViPR installation. “There is a big focus on building up the community around these northbound connection points.”
The second connection point, the ecosystem, is what EMC calls the southbound integration. “You have other storage system that ViPR doesn’t support and you want to make ViPR support it.” That’s where the GitHub Community comes in.
The third element is extending the ViPR platform. “We believe that this is how things need to be done. This isn’t EMC sitting back and responding to other people’s software-defined storage, this is actually getting out and driving it… solving our customers’ biggest needs.”