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Three Key Observations From the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference

Posted by Brian Lett | Author Info

Dec 22, 2014 9:55:18 AM

I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that supported the EMC presence at the recent Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas earlier this month. Lots of hard work (briefings, meetings, staffing the expo booth) but also a great opportunity to speak with users and customers, as well as garner some interesting insights from the Gartner analyst-presented sessions.

 So what were some of the key themes I observed? First, the software-defined data center is moving a lot closer to reality for a lot of attendees. Key technologies such as software-defined storage and software-defined networking have moved for most from the “I’ll keep my eyes on it” bucket in 2014 into the “I’ve got to do something about this in 2015” bucket. That’s no surprise to our team; we’ve been observing a lot of the same behavior in our interactions with customers at places like executive briefings and user-group meetings. And it helped drive a lot of the insights we presented in our event-sponsor session on“Making the Software-Defined Data Center a Reality for Your Business,” in which the need for automation, especially at the management and monitoring level, was emphasized as a critical requirement to delivering on the promise of the software-defined data center.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, software-defined data center, ViPR, ScaleIO, storage management, Service Provider, Gartner Data Center Conference

Software-Defined Storage Goes Way Beyond Storage Virtualization

Posted by Yoram Ramberg | Author Info

Sep 29, 2014 9:00:00 AM

I’ve been reading and talking to folks about software-defined-storage (SDS) and software-defined-everything and found out that we often use the terms ‘SDS’ and ‘virtual storage’ interchangeably. This doesn’t sound right. It is useful to distinguish between these terms as they are better used for two distinct concepts. Let me see if I can offer a better real world definition, or at least description, for these terms.

Storage virtualization is typically used to describe an abstraction of storage technology. The latter may be a storage array, which, via virtualization, appears to us as several arrays, each with its unique LUNs. The opposite is also conceivable: manifest a single block space by virtualizing a set of arrays. So, if you’re running an application that performs block I/O, it can talk to the virtual array as if it were a physical box, with its addresses, controllers, and redundancy. Virtualization helps to make an efficient use of the underlying hardware. Instead of managing actual boxes with various capricious demands and hard limits, look at them as if they were well behaved units of your own specification. Under the covers, your virtual storage SAN maps to actual physical storage but the complexities of the latter are conveniently hidden. Good.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, third platform, software-defined data center, ViPR

“Analyze This”: How Analytics, Pattern Recognition and Software-Defined Storage are Transforming the Datacenter…and Your Life

Posted by Rodger Burkley | Author Info

Aug 4, 2014 9:15:32 AM

Pattern recognition! That’s what we carbon-based ‘humanoids’ are good at…since the very beginning when humankind first started walking upright. As a whole, we’re really adept at observing our immediate surroundings, natural environment and a sundry of other random and not so random things. We notice what happens around us in our personal biosphere, and existential universe. We notice things that touch our lives in some significant or insignificant way. From the mundane and annoyingly trivial to profoundly grave matters affecting our very existence like: Cause/effect; action/reaction; commotion/notion; fascinations/machinations; observation/correlation; discovery/recovery; monitoring/manipulating, detection/correction; measuring/tabulating; analyzing/theorizing and so on. My, how busy we are! A strong survival and pain avoidance instinct does that. And so does natural selection.

It comes down to situational awareness (SA). SA gleaned from recognizing patterns that allows us to understand interrelationships and dynamics so we can plan for; act on and hopefully accurately predict events, occurrences and outcomes. Of course, sound ‘policies’ usually evolve, improve and get codified in the process. Just think about how much you observe in your daily life. Chances are you’re constantly coming up with possible ‘situations’, course of actions (COAs) and maybe even personal policies based on probabilities or predictability for all different reasons, seasons, ligations, occasions and outcomes. And we tend to make these ‘root cause’ observations, COAs and predictions on both general abstracted assumptions and/or backed by granular data analysis. We can even ‘virtualize’ scenarios and problem solving while day dreaming….or conjuring up ‘what ifs’. 

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, software-defined data center, Virtual Environments, storage management

Storage Transformation Demands New Thinking (When it Comes to Software-Defined Storage, if it Walks like a Duck and Quacks like a Duck, It Still Might be a Pig!)

Posted by Rich Simmons | Author Info

Jul 21, 2014 9:00:00 AM

We live in interesting times right now in the storage business. What was once considered a “boring” sector of IT is now hot again. We have new vendors entering the market at a furious pace, trying to gain position in all-flash, flash attach, and software-defined storage. Additionally, we also have traditional storage incumbents looking to box out the new entrants through different combinations of product re-brand, acquisition and/or partnerships.

The new vendor entrants are the most fun to watch in my opinion. Unencumbered by installed bases, or legacy technology (or politics!) they are free to try new approaches to long-standing issues and roadblocks that always emerge as technology matures. Some new players have truly unique and interesting solutions; others have only marketing spin. 

Watching some of the traditional storage vendors try to counter these new offerings is generally quite amusing, and in some cases just plain sad. They trot out technology that has been around for years declaring it to be Software-Defined, and Cloud ready or whatever they think will make them most relevant. The most common response I see is the re-brand. You know the drill: product XYZ was our storage virtualization/storage OS product for years, but now it’s called product ZYX and it’s software-defined storage because we dropped the hardware requirement! So it’s now Software-Defined Storage (SDS)?

It all just serves to remind me why I work where I do. One of the great things about working for EMC is the company’s ability to blend both the innovation and enthusiasm of a startup with our traditional storage business. My group, the Advanced Software Division is a great example of this. EMC looked out over the storage landscape some years ago and made a pretty bold bet. They did not choose to re-purpose and re-brand existing technology. Rather they went outside the box (literally outside the company walls) and hired Amitabh Srivastava to build it from the ground up. Now Amitabh was building cloud storage in his last gig, so he has been in on this SDS, cloud ready stuff for a while. EMC was listening to our customers tell us they needed a new approach, and that’s what we went out and did, starting from scratch to develop a solution that could help customers transition to the next storage generation.
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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, software-defined data center, HDFS, OpenStack

Accelerating and De-risking Your Journey to the 3rd Platform

Posted by Jason Cowie | Author Info

Feb 24, 2014 9:00:00 AM

With software-defined data centers transforming the way IT is delivering services, enterprise management vendors have struggled to keep up with the paradigm shift from managing individual elements to managing IT services.  Modern, on-demand services deployed across highly virtualized and cloud-based infrastructures require radically different management approaches to ensure a predictable quality of service.  Recently, in his Mind the Gap keynote speech in London, Amitabh Srivastava described EMC’s strategy for helping customers make this transition while “bridging the gap” between traditional client/server (2nd Platform) and cloud (3rd Platform) computing environments with a robust set of management and automation capabilities.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, third platform, software-defined data center, ViPR

Supporting Multiple Cloud Stacks in the Software-defined Data Center

Posted by Andy Waterhouse | Author Info

Jan 23, 2014 9:00:00 AM

When we talk about the software-defined data center, we often think of delivering our vision through the use of a single cloud stack or cloud automation platform. The use of a single stack helps to be able to implement, manage and visualize the delivery of an IT service and also means that there is a clear way of recording everything in a service catalog and CMDB/CMS.   

However, for many customers, the ability to use a single stack is simply not a reality.  There can be many reasons for this:

• A multiple hypervisor strategy, using an 'element management' approach
• The integration of a new organization with a different service delivery model, different storage array hardware or stack approach
• Organic business growth within the organization with non-interlocked business units
• A specific application infrastructure project delivery that required the use of a different stack or orchestration approach (such as HP OO, BMC Atrium Orchestrator, vCO, Puppet or scripts) 

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, software-defined data center, VMware