EMC Moves Into Software-Defined Storage Realm With ViPR

NEWS ANALYSIS: EMC's idea is to offer customers a way to retain the value of the current storage infrastructure while building out capabilities that reflect developing cloud models.

LAS VEGAS—EMC is betting that by providing a transitional software-based storage management architecture the company will be part of its customers' transition to the cloud. ViPR, introduced at the currently ongoing EMC world customer conference, is designed to provide abstraction layers for both the control and data path storage operations in companies.

The concept underlying ViPR is to offer customers a way to retain the value of the current storage infrastructure while building out storage capabilities that reflect the developing cloud storage models without having to abandon previous storage investments.

EMC's promise to maintain the old while preparing customers for the new resembles what the company undertook with VMware in 2003 and the virtualization of the server environment. It also runs counter to the public cloud providers that contend the cost, complexity and time involved in creating hybrid cloud environments will overwhelm the resources of many companies.

The introduction of ViPR marks a major change in EMC, which profited from selling reliable, yet expensive storage systems. The ViPR service is just that: a software service that will collect information about storage resources, assemble those resources, allocate the storage resource where needed and manage the storage infrastructure.

Any one of those activities is a big undertaking in itself; creating an offering that can do all those pieces is indeed a big accomplishment.

In introducing ViPR, Amitabh Srivastava, president of EMC's Advanced Software Division, said the service was developed from four consistent customer requests.

"Customers want a choice of the storage system they will use," said Srivastava. He added that customers also want to control operating expenses and storage management costs; they want a seamless transition to the cloud-based environments; and they want to embrace open environments and avoid proprietary lock-ins. He claimed ViPR meets all those requirements.

The press release announcing the ViPr product claims: "Using EMC ViPR, service providers and IT departments can drive toward the operational model of Web-scale data centers without hiring thousands of technical experts to build a custom environment."

The ViPR service does address many of the issues currently facing the enterprise and service provider environment. The increasing cost of storage and the difficulty of managing storage resources is a consistent concern for technology managers. The move toward cloud storage environments offering vast storage of block-based storage is overtaking traditional file-based storage methods.

The continuing virtualization and abstraction of the technology infrastructure has relieved some difficulties in bringing in new hardware to match increased data needs, but it has also created management problems in terms of security and managing a virtualized, dispersed environment.

"Hybrid cloud will be pervasive," contended EMC Executive Vice President Jeremy Burton, who went on to claim that, in 2016, 86 percent of computing workloads will continue to take place in the private cloud environment.

Simple, extensive and open were the three storage requirements that Srivastava said will be the hallmarks of storage in the future.

ViPR is an impressive-sounding entry into the cloud and virtualization software-defined infrastructure. The proof of concept will be in ViPR's ability to actually go in and discover the computing resources and then allocate and manage those resources, whether residing as private resources or public cloud infrastructures.

EMC said the ViPR product will be available in the second half of 2013 but didn't divulge pricing details.

EMC World 2013 continues through May 9 in Las Vegas.

About Eric Lundquist

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm.
Eric Lundquist, who was editor in chief at eWEEK (previously PC Week) from 1996-2008, authors this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.