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EMC World 2014 Highlights (abridged)

Although I didn’t attend EMC World this year, there were a lot of interesting announcements. I managed to catch up with Matt Cowger (who sorts of sits between both the EMC & VMware camps) and ran through some of the main highlights from this year’s conference. There has been a lot written about EMC World already (and I mean a lot) so I’m going to try to keep the highlights to a minimum, and provide links to where you can read more.

1. EMC Enterprise Hybrid Cloud 2.5

This was one of the first announcements. It basically is a hybrid cloud offering which consists of EMC Storage & Services, Pivotal, VMware virtualization & management products, and vCHS, VMware’s vCloud Hybrid Service. There are three use cases identified:

EMC made the claim that their Hybrid Cloud can be stood up in just 48 hours, and they achieved this in real-time at EMC World this year (actually, Matt informed me that the team could have stood it up in 24 hours, but wanted to extend it over the period of the show). EMC said its new hybrid cloud offering currently supports VMware environments only, but that they will soon support OpenStack and Microsoft cloud environments.

2. ECS – Elastic Cloud Storage (Project Nile)

The EMC Elastic Cloud Storage Appliance — known as Project Nile during its beta — is a hyperscale cloud storage infrastructure designed for public and hybrid clouds, and will scale to 2.9 PB in one rack.  If I was to describe this in its simplest form, this is EMC engineered components running ViPR and ScaleIO. You can read more about the initial release of ViPR here and more on ScaleIO here. However, there have been some significant changes to ViPR announce at EMC World 2014 and I will cover those next. Chad covers the ECS/Project Nile announcement in his blog post here.

3. ViPR 2.0

The initial release of ViPR, according to Chad Sakac, was to focus on the controller and implement the abstract, pool and automate paradigms of Software Defined Storage. In this release, EMC are focusing more on the data services.

The first point was to let us know that ViPR 2.0 supports ScaleIO, as mentioned in the previous section on ECS/Project Nile. ScaleIO will now become the ViPR SDS block data  service. To coincide with this, ViPR is now supported with commodity off-the-shelf hardware (COTS). This is a major step forward for ViPR since version 1.1 it required VNX or Isilon.

With regards to services, HDFS and Object (Swift, S3, Atmos) presentation models are now fully supported. This is pretty cool, as some arrays may not have the ability to do these presentation models natively, but with ViPR sitting in the path, these presentation models are achievable. NAS support is not yet there, but is promised in the very near future.

EMC have also announced that ViPR will also support for Hitachi Data Systems arrays in this release. More here on ViPR 2.0 via Chad (heads-up, this one is rather long)

 4. VNXe as an appliance (Project Liberty)

This is quite cool – EMC are basically making the VNXe code stack available as a virtual appliance. What this means is that a VNXe can be deployed on ESXi, but it could be consuming some completely different underlying storage (ScaleIO for example). A major use case for this is for IT to spin up several virtual array instances quickly, to speed development of new applications in a test and development environment. Chad Sakac also mentioned that there could be another multi-tenant use case where everyone gets their own VNX. How nice would that be?

5. VNXe 3200 release (first of the ‘new’ converged VNX/VNXe)

The VNXe 3200 is the first of the ‘new’ converged VNX/VNXe line of storage arrays. This model is claimed to support three times the number of virtual machines compared to the previous generation VNXe in the same small footprint. The press release states that the VNXe3200 price starts at under $12K.

6. D@RE

EMC have also added Data-At-Rest-Encryption – EMC D@RE – to the VNX Series (note that this is ONLY relevant to VNX2, not VNX or VNXe). As per the press release, D@RE is “providing the capability to encrypt data written to disk and eliminate data access from unauthorized drive removal”.


Possible the most interesting highlight of the week, in my opinion, was EMC’s announcement that it will acquire DSSD. DSSD, still pretty much in stealth mode, develop flash storage architecture geared to I/O-intensive in-memory databases (e.g. SAP HANA), real-time analytics and big data workloads. A common misconception is that this is an in-memory product. It is not. It is flash-based, but the aim is for it to provide performance that starts to approach in-memory. Although it will be 2015 at the earliest before we see any products based on DSSD’s rack-scale flash storage architecture, it shows how much all the major players feel that flash is now the future. You can read Chad’s blog post on the DSSD acquisition here.

 So what are the key takeaways? Well, for me, Hybrid Cloud, flash and leveraging COTS seem to be the key trends. I also like the fact that ViPR continue to add more services, especially HDFS, which they alluded to in earlier versions but have now delivered in 2.0. I’ll be interested to see if these are trends that are reflected amongst our other storage partners at VMworld 2014. Kudos to Matt for his insights and comments on this post.

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