EMC Makes Open Gambit into Software-Defined Storage

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With just about everything in the data center becoming programmable these days, storage vendors are racing to develop new software-defined architectures that promise to make storage systems easier to deploy and manage. The issue with all these approaches is that they have all been limited to one particular vendor’s storage system.

EMC, at the EMC World 2013 conference today, took the wraps off EMC ViPR, a software-defined architecture that can be extended across any set of storage resources regardless of the vendor providing the storage.

According to Chris Ratcliffe, vice president of marketing for the EMC Advanced Software Division, EMC is pursuing a hardware-neutral approach in recognition of the fact that storage has become more heterogeneous in the enterprise. As such, Ratcliffe says any viable approach to software-defined storage (SDS) not only has to work across multiple systems, it needs to include application programming interfaces that make those storage resources programmable.

In addition, that approach to SDS also needs to be compatible with software-defined networking (SDN) architectures that together with SDS are leading to the development of software-defined data centers. As part of that effort, EMC is committed to making ViPR compatible with both OpenStack and Microsoft cloud computing platforms

But the significance of ViPR goes well beyond SDS. The EMC approach to SDS allows IT organizations to start thinking in terms of storage services that can be delivered to any storage platform. It ultimately won’t matter if those services are accessing backed file, block or object services because ViPR will unify those services at a higher level of abstraction that can be delivered as a data service to the ViPR controller via the cloud.

As a storage vendor, EMC had developed a reputation for developing proprietary technology that locks customers into a particular storage platform. With the launch of EMC ViPR, the perception of EMC in the storage marketplace may very well change.