EMC Promises Further Innovation for Cloud Environments

EMC is getting ready to launch its Project Lightning, and also is looking for better ways to manage its portfolio and move workloads around virtualized data centers.

FOXBORO, Mass. - EMC executives say that the company-not only with its expanding storage portfolio but also its expertise in virtualization, security capabilities and strong management software-is at the forefront of business' migration to the cloud-computing model.

When EMC on Oct. 18 announced that third-quarter revenues jumped 18 percent over the same period in 2010, and net income rose 28 percent, officials and analysts pointed to rising demand for the vendor's cloud and storage technologies as the key drivers.

At the EMC Forum 2011 event here Oct. 20, executives continued to tout the company's position, saying EMC's product portfolio is well positioned at the intersection of two key trends in today's high-tech industry-cloud computing and "big data"-and that they are continuing to drive innovation to meet business demand in both areas.

Speaking before several hundred customers, partners, analysts and journalists, EMC President and COO Pat Gelsinger spoke of the rapid transition in the industry toward cloud and data analytics, and added that "these waves of disruption create tremendous challenges as well as tremendous opportunities."

To address the various drivers that are leading enterprises to cloud computing and forcing them deal with big data, data centers need to become increasingly virtualized, flexible, scalable, secure and automated, he said. EMC's role is to help businesses deploy the infrastructure necessary to make the move to hybrid cloud environments and to collect, store and analyze the massive amounts of data being generated by those companies every day.

EMC has been aggressive in expanding its portfolio to put itself in a position to address such customer demands, as evidenced by the $10.5 billion the company invested in R&D over the past eight years, and the $14 billion it's spent buying companies to fill out its offerings, from virtualization technology vendor VMware to Data Domain, Isilon and Greenplum, he said.

During the event here, Gelsinger outlined several ways EMC officials are looking to grow the capabilities of their products to help businesses make the move to the cloud. Its Project Lightning technology, which essentially is a PCIe flash card that can be plugged into a slot in the server to move virtual machines (VMs) and their workloads around the data center, should launch later this year or in early 2012, he said.

Project Lightning has been in beta since earlier this month, where it has gotten a tremendous reception from customers who are looking for faster and more efficient ways to move and retrieve data in data centers, Gelsinger told eWEEK after his keynote. The flash card brings data closer to the processor than in traditional storage environments, and users can leverage EMC's Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) to tier storage across multiple devices.

He gave kudos to Fusion-io for pioneering this idea, but said EMC will do it better, and with more supporting technology.

At the same time, EMC is also working with its VMware subsidiary to enable IT administrators to use the latter's VMotion technology to not only move VMs and their workloads between physical servers, but also into and out of storage devices.

EMC also is looking to simplify the management software for its disparate offerings, including the possibility of using VMware's vCenter as the standard technology to manage all resources in a virtualized data center environment.

In addition, EMC also announced new options that will help scale the company's VNX unified storage system. A new high-bandwidth option for the VNX5500 will deliver 6.5G bps performance, which the company said is a 50 percent improvement over what the technology now delivers. The system is optimized for such tasks as high-bandwidth data warehousing from Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle, as well as high-end video production and gas and oil tasks, according officials.

A new dense configuration and new 3 terabyte NL-SAS drives are aimed at businesses with floor-space concerns or large amounts of less active data. The configuration includes a dense 4U drive chassis that holds 60 drives and the option of flash, SAS and near-line SAS drives.

In addition, the new Flash EMC VNX5500-F is designed for high availability for mission-critical Microsoft and Oracle OLTP workloads. The system offers 10 times the performance at 80 percent of the cost per TPM (transactions per minute), compared with EMC's all hard-disk drive VNX.