EMC VPlex Appliances Start Build-out of Virtual Storage Strategy

EMC is rolling out the first of its VPlex appliances, designed to help enterprises bring multiple storage arrays into a single resource pool and to enable them to move petabytes of storage over long distances. The VPlex appliances are the first products in EMC's Virtual Storage initiative, which the storage giant unveiled in March.

BOSTON-EMC officials are unveiling the first product in their Virtual Storage strategy that is expected to eventually enable businesses to move large amounts of stored data anywhere in the world without the latency and bandwidth problems that traditionally have been tied to storage.

At the first full day of the EMC World 2010 conference here May 10, Pat Gelsinger, president and chief operating officer for EMC's Information Infrastructure Products, and Brian Gallagher, divisional president of EMC's Symmetrix and Virtualization product group, announced the first two VPlex appliances that enable businesses to federate widely distributed storage arrays, and move data seamlessly over increasing distances.

In a press conference, Gelsinger compared EMC's approach with what VMware's VMotion does for servers, enabling them to move virtual machines from one place to another.

VPlex will enable businesses to take multiple arrays of storage and treat them as a single resource pool through a caching technique called distributed cache coherence, gained through its acquisition of YottaYotta in 2008.

The combination of this technology and global federation will eliminate the issues of distance when talking about data, issues such as latency, bandwidth and resiliency, according to EMC officials.

In addition, it will enable enterprises to continue their push to cloud computing, a key part of EMC's message at the show this week. Today, businesses can move huge server workloads, but they can't move terabytes of stored data, Gelsinger said.

With VPlex, "now we've created a truly dynamic data center," he said.

Gelsinger first introduced EMC's Virtual Storage initiative in a meeting with analysts in March, and other EMC executives followed that with subsequent interviews, hinting that the first product in the strategy-an appliance-would be introduced at EMC World.

EMC first is rolling out VPlex Local and VPlex Metro. VPlex Local will enable businesses to move huge amounts of storage within a single data center. VPlex Metro allows such movement between data centers in distances of about 100 kilometers.

In 2011, EMC will enable transfers of massive data stores between continents with VPlex Geo and throughout the world with VPlex Global.

"We're now taking those concepts [of data federation] and taking them to a global scale," Gallagher said. "These capabilities will fundamentally change the way people think and plan about their data centers."

The VPlex architecture enables businesses to scale up and down from one to eight nodes. The appliances support storage products from both EMC and other vendors, and they fit in standard racks. They have two processor boards, each using dual-core Intel Xeon processors, according to Gallagher.

Pricing starts at $77,000, with a software subscription service starting at $26,000.

Gelsinger and Gallagher said the new offerings not only give enterprises the ability to transform their data centers in private clouds, but also avoid natural disasters by enabling them to quickly move data from one data center to another, move thousands of virtual machines and petabytes of storage over long distances, and move batching jobs to data centers with lower energy costs.

Analysts overall were positive when Gelsinger and other EMC officials first rolled out the Virtual Storage initiative.

Officials with one of EMC's competitors, NetApp, noted that EMC is pushing forward with innovation around globally distributed storage. However, Patrick Rogers, vice president of solutions and alliances marketing with NetApp, said his company is right up there with EMC.

"NetApp is already at the forefront of this evolution with our existing and proven FlexCache technology combined with our best-of-breed technology partner ecosystem," Rogers said. "What sets NetApp apart is our ability to deliver these capabilities through a single, unified platform instead of forcing customers to leverage disparate architectures that require an entirely new set of processes, tools and training."