A couple of days after VMware revealed its new vSphere 5 cloud systems management package, its owner, EMC, on July 14 launched some of its own new cloudware.
EMC, which built its reputation by storing and securing data in physical quarters, has been working up a new storage management platform for cloud deployments for about two years. Dubbed ProSphere, a name not far removed from vSphere, the new virtual appliance is designed to provide users with the ability to manage increasingly larger and disparate storage environments, while at the same time integrating private, public and hybrid cloud pools into their physical plants.
Storage management, especially with larger workloads pouring into data centers, has always presented some of the thorniest problems to solve, particularly in distributed systems such as private and hybrid clouds. Naturally, with VMware in the family, EMC has made sure that full integration and support for the newest VMware cloudware-namely, vSphere 5-is in place.
Here, according to EMC, are some of ProSphere's key features:
- Agentless discovery: Eliminates the burden of installing and managing host agents.
- Smart groups: Streamlines policy management by letting users group and manage objects with similar characteristics.
- Federated architecture: Supports end-to-end, multi-site management from a single pane of glass, regardless of location.
- New browser-based user interface: Provides a complete end-to-end view with only a few clicks, making it easy for users to understand and address complex relationships in large virtualized environments.
- Near real-time monitoring and analysis: Provides up to date and detailed views of service levels.
Since it is deployed as a virtual appliance, EMC said, ProSphere takes less than an hour to install and is able to discover most enterprise environments in one business day (8 hours). Application updates are performed via browser-based interface.
Ionix Acquisition Led to ProSphere
Analyst Bob Laliberte of Enterprise Strategy Group told eWEEK that EMC's Ionix acquisition two years ago got the ball rolling for this product.
At EMC World in May, the company launched version 3.0 of its Ionix Server Manager, which can troubleshoot an entire virtualized system, whether it has public, private, hybrid or any other kind of service-related element within it. This is enabled by integration with VMware's vCenter and a full understanding of VMware's vSwitch.
"The first implementation of this technology was delivered in the Ionix Storage Configuration Advisor," Laliberte said. "As far as the cloud computing era and cloud storage angle, what we are basically talking about here is the transition from legacy environments, to highly virtualized to eventually cloud based.
"Our research shows that most large organizations are still getting to the virtualized part. However, it also pointed out that some of the biggest challenges would be around performance, and more specifically end-to-end performance VM to Storage. So their leading with storage would indicate that they are in touch with customer pain points."
What differentiates EMC from what others (such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard, CA, BMC, Symantec and newer players such as Aptare and SolarWinds) are doing in this space?
"Two angles here: Most of the big established vendors are still agent-based, but all are trying to make them smarter [only requiring one for multiple products, taking up less CPU, being easier to manage] or trying to eliminate them," Laliberte said. "In this space, EMC is the first to do a ground-up re-architecture.
"NetApp acquired the agentless SANscreen and just brought in Akorri for performance, so they get it. The biggest advantage EMC has is its market share; thousands and thousands of existing EMC users that they have access to. Also EMC has been a big proponent of the private [and now hybrid] cloud, so it is no surprise that they are building their management products with that focus."
EMC ControlCenter users under maintenance contract can upgrade to ProSphere free of charge.