LAS VEGAS: Having dealt with some fiddly bits prior to the start of EMC World 2014, the company brought out the big guns on Day 1, addressing cloud and software-defined storage, as well as announcing it was acquiring DSSD, Inc., a privately held developer of a rack-scale flash storage architecture for I/O-intensive in-memory databases and Big Data workloads. In addition, it also indulged in its own little guerilla marketing shot across the bows — HP is onsite trying to entice any of the more than 14,000 EMC customers attending the event to jump ship to its 3PAR platform — with a million-dollar guarantee that ExtremeIO rules the flash storage roost. The biggest product news were the EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance, the EMC Hybrid Cloud solution, and the latest iteration of the company’s software-defined storage offering, ViPR 2.0. According to EMC, the ECS appliance is a hyperscale cloud storage infrastructure that delivers the ease-of-use, agility and cost benefits of public cloud, with the control and security of an on-premise private cloud, for 23-28% less cost than Amazon AWS. The Hybrid Cloud solution reportedly delivers faster application provisioning and deployment, greater business agility, and increased levels of IT automation. ViPR 2.0 adds new data services and now supports more storage arrays. Mid-sized to large organizations are increasingly looking to leverage the cost and scale benefits of public cloud models, but on their own terms, according to data from 451 Research. According to Amitabh Srivastava, President, Advanced Storage Division, EMC, customers had to chose between the simplicity and economics of the public cloud and the control and security of the private cloud. They also made it clear that while they were unhappy about having to make these tradeoffs by going one way or the other, they did not want a rip-and-replace alternative, he said. “The future is getting more and more complex, but the one who makes it simple wins!” Customer feedback also played a role in the inclusion of support for the ECS Appliance, commodity platforms and state-of-the-art object capabilities in ViPR 2.0. “ViPR has been shown to reduce the overhead of managing multi-vendor storage environments by up to 80% and with this new release offers significant improvements in terms of automation, supported platforms and geo-scalability,” said Srivastava in a prepared statement. During a Q&A session he said that the only missing piece is file storage support, and while he couldn’t give a date for when it will be added to ViPR, the implication was it would be, and sooner rather than later. Boaz Palgi,Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Storage Division, who came to EMC when his company ScaleIO was acquired, is responsible for the compay’s software-defined storage initiatives like ViPR. “I’ve been preaching the propostion of software defined storage for quite a few years. I think it’s amazing how quickly the market is adopting the whole vision of software defined everything.” He said even three years ago people were very sceptical about running storage arrays in software, and now they’re all talking about it and many of them are deploying it too. The cloud solution delivers the industry’s best method for IT to deliver added value to the business while evolving itself to a broker of services – whether in-house or from a public cloud, said Josh Kahn, EMC SVP of Global Solutions Marketing, in a prepared statement. “Our objective is to make it simpler for IT organizations to deploy well run Hybrid Clouds in a matter of days and deliver the same or even better agility and efficiency benefits to public clouds.” Referring to the theme of this year’s event, Redefine, Jeremy Burton, President, Products and Marketing, EMC, called the new hybrid cloud offering “infrastructure redefined,” delivering a hybrid cloud in 5 days or less. “We’ve produced the definitive cookbook of the definitive reference guide!” One of its early investors, EMC said the DSSD architecture complements its flash storage portfolio and is designed to deliver game-changing performance for next-generation applications such as SAP HANA and Hadoop. It will operate as a standalone unit within EMC’s Emerging Technology Products Division reporting to Chirantan “C.J.” Desai, and DSSD president and CEO Bill Moore will lead the the new addition, while DSSD Chairman Andy Bechtolsheim, who is also Chairman and Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks, and formerly a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, will remain a strategic advisor. Dan Cobb, VP and CTO, Emerging Technology Products Division, is the man in charge when it comes to flash at EMC. “It’s been such a target-rich environment because it makes so many things better.” He calls flash “a thousand-X technology” that enables so many technologies. The company entered this segment back in 2008 and last quarter sold more than 17 petabytes of flash capacity, up over 70% year-over-year from the first quarter of 2013. After less than two months of general availability in the fourth quarter of 2013, XtremIO became the leader in all-flash array, “comfortably surpassing” every other all-flash array. In addition, more than 70% of all VMAX and VNX2 systems now ship with flash capacity. As part of his flash mandate, including staying on top of alternatives, he’s been looking at ways of continuing to improve performance, durability and economics and with DSSD, they found all three in one company. They have a “maniacal” focus on density, their architecture bypasses the CPU for reduced latency, and they are software based. “Everything that might happen to data… they manage in software and that gives them tremendous proficiencies”. Burton said DSSD’s rack-scaled SSD storage is a product for the future. Quoting IDC data, he said only 2.8% of enterprise datacenters will be all-flash by 2017. “Flash is important, but also economics are important.” Products based on the new DSSD rack-scale flash storage architecture are expected to be available in 2015 and will be optimized for: in-memory databases (e.g. SAP HANA, GemFire, etc.); real-time analytics (e.g. risk management, fraud detection, high-frequency applications, Pivotal HD, etc.); and high-performance applications used by research and government agencies (e.g. genomics, facial recognition, climate analysis, etc.). Running until the end of September, “The XtremIO $1Million Guarantee” offers one million dollars to the first EMC XtremIO all-flash array customer that can prove their XtremIO system’s inline data services have switched off, been throttled back or defaulted to a “system garbage collection” state. “There is a lot of hype about flash today,” said , said David Goulden, CEO of EMC Information Infrastructure, so the company showed customer data and the million-dollar guarantee to demonstrate the architectural differences of ExtremeIO. “So we’re trying to set the record straight about all-flash.” This is a huge deal, said Burton. “Our data services are always on. Our data services are always inline.” And for those customers who have made a mistake and gone with another flash vendor, EMC is also offering a trade-in program, he added. “We’re offering this guarantee because we believe we’re the only flash provider who can deliver on the promise of being inline all of the time, said Goulden in yet another canned quote. “EMC’s XtremIO all-flash arrays have a unique architecture, and with this guarantee we’re exposing the shortcomings of competing solutions. We are happy to put a million dollars on the line to make our point and make the market aware of the distance that exists between XtremIO and its competitors.” The Latest Fiddly Bits (& Bytes) EMC Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) Appliance, formerly known as “Project Nile”, is intended to eliminate the tradeoffs inherent within the public cloud, offering between 9%-28% lower TCO in object storage implementations than public cloud alternatives from Amazon and Google. A breakthrough hyperscale cloud storage infrastructure, it delivers the ease-of-use and agility of a public cloud with the control and security of a private cloud. The appliance is a modular, scale-out solution with up to 2.9 Petabytes in a single rack, and can be clustered to achieve Exabyte scale. EMC is also introducing new architecture and design services for the ECS Appliance to help customers identify which of their current application workloads will drive the greatest business return with the appliance, and will architect and design a system configuration to drive maximum impact and value within their environment. The services will be available with the general release of the ECS Appliance in the second quarter of 2014. ViPR 2.0 software-defined storage adds block data services and new geographic replication and distribution, and provides support for commodity platforms and additional third-party arrays through OpenStack. ViPR Object Data Services can now span multiple locations and offer state-of-the-art, patent pending geo-replication and geo-distribution capabilities to deliver new levels of efficiency and performance, as well as additional compliance capabilities to ensure federal, healthcare and other industry requirements are met, and provide support for the EMC Centera CAS (Content Addressable Storage) API. This allows Centera customers to maintain the unique retention and compliance features offered by their applications on any ViPR-supported platform with no software changes required. In addition, it also adds ViPR Block Services, new data services based on EMC ScaleIO server-SAN software. These services deliver block storage capabilities to any ViPR managed commodity storage array. ViPR Controller now natively, and through a new OpenStack Cinder plugin, supports commodity as well as even more storage arrays. The list of natively supported arrays now includes EMC, Hitachi Data Systems and NetApp, as well as commodity storage, and through the OpenStack Cinder plugin, ViPR supports Dell, HP and IBM arrays. EMC’s Software-Defined Storage software suites, ViPR SRM and Service Assurance (SA) Suite have also undergone significant enhancements. ViPR 2.0, ViPR SRM and SAS 9.3 will be available in Q2. EMC Hybrid Cloud solution is an end-to-end reference architecture that is built upon the company’s private cloud solutions, allowing customers to rapidly integrate with multiple public clouds to create a unified hybrid cloud. Based on a Software-Defined Data Center architecture comprising technologies from across The EMC Federation of Companies: EMC storage and data protection, Pivotal CF Platform-as-a- service (PaaS) and the Pivotal Big Data Suite, VMware cloud management and virtualization solutions, and VMware vCloud Hybrid Service, it currently supports VMware environments, and will soon support OpenStack and Microsoft environments. DISCLAIMER: Still here courtesy of EMC, and still doing my best to be both impartial and yet a respectful guest.