EMC’s ViPR Unleashed

Shipping one Exabyte of storage was a milestone that took EMC ten years to reach. Amazingly, in 2013, EMC was able to reach that same heady number in just one month’s worth of storage shipments. Clearly, business is good at EMC. But if this isn’t a clarion call that storage is starting to proliferate well beyond what traditional data centers environments can readily absorb, then nothing is. As enterprise data growth continues to reach new heights while IT budgets remain flat, something has to give. Enter EMC’s new ViPR offering.

Today EMC announced the general availability of release 1.0 of its new software defined storage (SDS) “ViPR” solution. Originally introduced at EMC World this past May (you can read our initial thoughts in our column, “Analyzing EMC’s Software Defined Storage”, ViPR is EMC’s response to the enterprise market demand for solutions that can ease storage management pain while reducing storage operational expenditures. As a lightweight software client that splits the control plane from the data plane, ViPR is designed as a non-disruptive SDS solution which consolidates storage management across heterogenous storage resources.

What’s in ViPR 1.0?

In its initial incarnation, ViPR will support EMC block and file based storage platforms, its Recover Point CDP technology and Network Appliance filers. Later generations will add support for other storage vendor platforms as well as general commodity disk. As a technology which sits outside of the data path, ViPR will serve as the control plane for enabling centralized command and control over such functions as reporting and resource provisioning over disparate storage platforms. Other services like data snapshotting and replication will be re-directed by ViPR to Recover Point in this first release. Subsequent releases of the product will have these services completely embedded within the ViPR SDS system.

ViPR Delivers Object

In addition to enabling enterprise environments to massively consolidate storage operations, ViPR is providing data centers with an on-ramp to the cloud. ViPR will provide full support for the Amazon S3 API as well as OpenStack’s Swift RESTful protocol. Many of EMC’s enterprise customers have voiced a strong interest in leveraging the economies of scale of object based storage, but some are reluctant to cede control of their data over to a 3rd party provider. ViPR could provide an interesting option for building private cloud storage to address the surging data growth occurring in many of these environments.

The interest in object storage is at an all-time high and for good reason, it may be the only viable way to address the growth of unstructured data. As we discussed in our recent webinar, now available on demand, “5 Reasons Object Storage Can Solve Unstructured Data Problems”, object storage can reduce data storage costs, increase data retention capabilities and improve data protection.

ViPR is OPEN?

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the ViPR offering, however, is the clear effort EMC is taking to make the platform as open as possible. ViPR APIs will be made available to application developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) interested in developing solutions that will be compatible with ViPR. In fact, EMC is planning to create an online portal, called ViPR online, where developers and ISVs can test their software offerings for compatibility with ViPR for free.

To further bolster demand within the “freeware” community, EMC also plans to make ViPR’s object data service free to the research and academic institutions. Since ViPR is purely a software technology, these entities could easily deploy the ViPR software controller into their existing environments and create a very low cost object storage infrastructure based on commodity disk. Moreover, as many of these people are avid users of open source technologies like OpenStack and HDFS, this could be a shrewd move on EMC’s part to cultivate mindshare within this community while debunking the longstanding perceptions that all of their solutions are inherently proprietary.

Storage Swiss Take

While the initial release of ViPR is only providing support for EMC, Network Appliance storage and VMware hypervisor systems, its very inclusive roadmap demonstrates EMC’s intent focus on developing a true software defined storage solution which can be consumed by many different user communities – from cloud service providers and enterprise data centers to academia.

In some respects, the ViPR platform is creating an “app store” like capability. Interestingly, this is something we suggested was a shortcoming of ViPR during EMC World; see our blog from the show, “Does ViPR Eliminate Vendor Lock-In”. The “app store” concept could help drive the true modularization of storage services to the benefit of those organizations drowning in a sea of data.

EMC is a client of Storage Switzerland

As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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