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EMC World 2013 Recap

By Randy Weis, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

The EMC World Conference held last week in Las Vegas demonstrated how EMC has a strong leadership position in the Virtualization, Storage and Software Defined Datacenter markets.

Seriously, this is not the Kool-Aid talking. Before anyone jumps in to point out how all the competitors are better at this or that, or how being a partner or customer of EMC has its challenges, I’d like to refer you to a previous blog I wrote about EMC: “EMC Leads the Storage Market for a Reason.” I won’t recap everything, but that blog talks about business success, not technical wizardry. Do the other major storage and virtualization vendors have solutions and products in these areas? Absolutely, and I promise to bring my opinions and facts around those topics to this blog soon.

What I found exciting about this conference was how EMC is presenting a more cohesive and integrated approach to the items listed below. The ExtremIO product has been greatly improved, some might say so that it is really usable now. I’d say the same about the EMC DR and BC solutions built on RecoverPoint and VPLEX – VPLEX is affordable and ready to be integrated into the VNX line. The VNX product line is mature now, and you can expect announcements around a major refresh this year. I’d say the same about the BRS line – no great product announcements, but better integration and pricing that helps customers and solution providers alike.

There are a few items I’d like to bullet for you:

  1. Storage Virtualization – EMC has finally figured out that DataCore is onto something, and spent considerable time promoting ViPR at EMC World. This technology (while 12 years to market behind DataCore) will open the eyes of the entire datacenter virtualization market to the possibilities of a Storage Hypervisor. What VMware did for computing, this technology will do for storage – storage resources deployed automatically, independent of the array manufacturer, with high value software features running on anything/anywhere. There are pluses and minuses to this new EMC product and approach, but this technology area will soon become a hot strategy for IT spending. Everyone needs to start understanding why EMC finally thinks this is a worthwhile investment and is making it a priority. To echo what I said in that prior blog, “Thank goodness for choices and competition!” Take a fresh look at DataCore and compare it to the new EMC offering. What’s better? What’s worse?
  2. Business Continuity and Highly Available Datacenters: Linking Datacenters to turn DR sites into an active computing resource is within reach of non-enterprise organizations now – midmarket, commercial, healthcare, SMB – however you want to define it.
    1. VPLEX links datacenters together (with some networking help) so that applications can run on any available compute or storage resource in any location – a significant advance in building private cloud computing. This is now licensed to work with VNX systems, is much cheaper and can be built into any quote. We will start looking for ways to build this into various solutions strategies – DR, BC, array migration, storage refreshes, stretch clusters, you name it.  VPLEX is also a very good solution for any datacenter in need of a major storage migration due to storage refresh or datacenter migration, as well as a tool to manage heterogeneous storage.
    2. RecoverPoint is going virtual – this is the leading replication tool for SRM, is integrated with VPLEX and now will be available as a virtual appliance. RP also has developed multi-site capabilities, with up to five sites, 8 RP “appliances” per site, in fan-in or fan-out configurations.
    3. Usability of both has improved, by standardizing management of both in Unisphere editions for both products.
    4. High Performance Storage and Computing – Server-side Flash, Flash Cache Virtualization and workload-crushing all-Flash arrays in the ExtremSF, ExtremSW and ExtremIO product line (formerly known as VFCache). As usual, the second release nails it for EMC. GreenPages was recently recognized as Global leaders in mission critical application virtualization, and this fits right in. Put simply, put an SSD card in a vSphere host and boost SQL/Oracle/EXCH performance over 100% in some cases. The big gap was in HA/DRS/vMotion. The host cache was a local resource, and thus vMotion was broken, along with HA and DRS. The new release virtualizes the cache so that VMs assigned local cache will see that cache even if it moves. This isn’t an all or nothing solution – you can designate the mission critical apps to use the cache and tie them to a subset of the cluster. This make this strategy affordable and granular.
    5. Isilon – This best in class NAS system keeps getting better. Clearly defined use cases, much better VMware integration and more successful implementations makes this product the one to beat in the scale-out NAS market.

Another whole article can be written about ViPR, EMC’s brand new storage virtualization tool, and that will be coming up soon. As promised, I’ll also take a look at the competitive offerings of HP and Dell, at least, in the Storage Virtualization, DR/BC, Server-side flash and scale-NAS solutions areas, as well as cloud storage integration strategies. Till then, thanks for reading this and please share your thoughts.