EMC Unveils RackHD, Open-Source Version of OnRack

EMC may be just a little bit preoccupied with figuring out its future with Dell, but the storage giant still has to carry on in standalone — or federation — mode until the deal closes next year, which now includes its latest initiative, RackHD. Originally unveiled in May as Project OnRack, the company calls it an open source physical management and orchestration that automates , , and across a broad range of hardware – servers, switches and storage.

RackHD  (Rack Hardware Director) is a new hardware administration level, said Brad Maltz, Sr. Director of Converged Infrastructure, EMC, that got a big boost with the Renasar Technologies acquisition earlier this year. He told IT Trends & Analysis EMC is “trying to build an agnostic programmatic layer to control server and storage hardware going forward”.

According to the company, the technology stack provides cohesive APIs to enable automated infrastructure. Developers can use the as a component in a larger orchestration system or to create a user interface for managing hardware services regardless of the underlying hardware in place.

We`re trying to solve the hardest problem, breaking software away from hardware, said Maltz. There are a number of stackups — like OpenStack — and they’re all dependent on hardware at some level but none of them have any level of maturity to solve this problem.

EMC has worked with multiple vendors, like HP and Dell, he added. “We have tons of experience in this space.”

The company said RackHD makes it simple to update firmware and BIOS and install OSs like KVM, vSphere, ScaleIO and CoreOS. It’s secure, scalable, platform-agnostic and programmable via API, and “doesn’t step on the toes” of higher-level infrastructure M&O or software like Puppet, Chef and Ansibl, but can be integrated or even incorporated by them.

RackHD offers a new layer of hardware-software abstraction, said EMC CTO John Roese, on today`s YouTube video. That abstraction capability is incredibly important to next-generation data center architecture, allowing pools of hardware resources to be able to support the growing diversity of traditional and next-generation application workloads. IT infrastructure software will be able to provide composable services for all types of workloads.

RackHD is already playing a key role at EMC in things like VxRack, which runs on industry standard servers, enclosures and switches at massive scale. Virtustream and Pivotal are making use of it, as well.

“OnRack is the EMC version of RackHD, but all of the development efforts will happen in the open source world,” said Maltz. Given that this is an industry-wide challenge, EMC believes RackHD will have broad appeal to the company’s partners and large customers. By open sourcing this technology, users will be able to enjoy more features, faster and without lock-in.

EMC also announced the release of  CoprHD (open software defined storage controller platform based on EMC’s Controller) 2.4, which includes new features, projects, community contributors, licensing and project by-laws. The new release expands the scope of platform support to include EMC’s Elastic Cloud Storage object storage array and the new REST API for ScaleIO and the latest version of XtremIO. It also announced that and Oregon State are actively participating in the community and contributing core functionality, API plugins and integrations and other support, as well as two new complementary projects in the community: Storage orchestration for OpenStack; and, Southbound SDK and initial ScaleIO plugin.

Intel is leading the project to provide storage orchestration for OpenStack, and the first feature under development is a QoS addon for Cinder that plugs into CoprHD. EMC has developed the preview code for the southbound SDK, which will allow storage vendors and other 3rd parties to more easily add support for other storage systems to CoprHD.

Now that RackHD is in the hands of the open-source community, roadmaps and schedules are out of EMC`s hands, said Maltz. “Onrack is currently available in its first version… in first customer ships right now.”

What the company is doing is driving “further and deeper into our vendor support matrix”, making sure it has control of both its server and switch platforms. Maltz said the second thing they`re doing with RackHD is engaging in forward-looking initiatives like Intel`s Rack Scale Architecture.

The third RackHD focus is where composable infrastructure comes in, he said.  “We see composable infrastructure being delivered through converged infrastructure.” When you move to composable infrastructure you are going to need and want those hooks at the hardware level, said Maltz.

Author: Steve Wexler

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