EMC Unveils Storage Virtualization Plan

The fruits of EMC's purchase of virtualization technology vendor VMware will arrive with Storage Router, an intelligent switch application due in 2005.

With storage virtualization squarely in its crosshairs, EMC Corp. is developing Storage Router, a product that aims to help larger enterprise customers combat the growth and complexity of storage area networks (SANs).

According to officials of Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC, Storage Router will enter the beta phase in the third quarter. The storage maker said it expects to have the system in production and shipping to customers sometime in the first half of 2005.

Customers and vendors peppering the storage industry have anticipated a virtualization-oriented product move by EMC after the company announced its plans to acquire VMware Inc. in December. The blockbuster acquisition totaled $635 million dollars.

EMC partnered with switch vendors Cisco Systems Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp. to develop heterogeneous technology in order to build intelligent storage routing into switch fabrics. This capability will allow the dynamic routing of data, or virtualization, said Mark Lewis, vice-president of Open Software at EMC.

Storage Router will enable customers with growing storage arrays to migrate data from one array to another, enabling the transition of a new array without requiring a shut down and impacting the process of dozens or even hundreds of applications, he said.

The Storage Router application will be at first tailored toward enterprise customers dealing with SANs that are growing larger and more complex. Lewis said the increasing infrastructure load can shrink a companys tolerance for downtime even further—for both unexpected as well as planned outages.

"Customers are getting more concerned with events dealing with planned downtime, where you need to reconfigure systems, insert and remove storage, [deal with] data copies and data migration from one storage box to another for an upgrade … thats where Storage Router comes in play," Lewis said.

EMC will work with standards organizations to provide the API into the intelligent switch fabrics. According to Lewis, EMC is focused on writing the management software that will manage and offer data paths to the switches.

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