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Rethink Storage Gets a New Home in 2015

Posted by Jamie Doherty | Author Info

Jan 14, 2015 9:00:00 AM

As the strategist, coordinator, and executor of this blog from inception, it is bittersweet that I write this entry with some big news to share.  One year ago this week we launched Rethink Storage.  The idea of this blog was to give the members of the Advanced Software team at EMC a voice so they could share their product and industry expertise with our customers, partners, brand advocates, potential customers, and everyone in-between.  As you know things change quickly in the technology industry, bringing me to the point of this blog.

Our engineers have created advanced software products so cutting edge that they are considered emerging technologies here at EMC and to the industry.  Starting today, Rethink Storage will have a new look, name, and web home.  The new name is the Emerging Technologies Blog and it will transform into this futuristic look:

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, third platform, VMware, ViPR, Object Storage, OpenStack, storage management, Service Assurance, EMC, Elastic Cloud Storage

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

Hard or Soft Storage? That is the Question and the Answer

Posted by Rodger Burkley | Author Info

Dec 15, 2014 9:00:00 AM

There’s lots of press these days on Software-Defined Storage (SDS), Software-Defined Data Centers (SDDC), Server SAN’s, software-only virtual SANs, hyper-converged storage servers, storage appliances and the like. We’ve all been inundated with this new technology and architectural terms by bloggers, marketing mavens, PR, tradeshow signage, consultants, analysts, technology pundits and CEOs of new start-ups. As a blogger and marketing guy, I plead doubly guilty. But the emergence of SDS systems and SDDCs is real and timely. Definitions and differences, however, can be a tiny bit murky and confusing.

This enabling technology is coming to market just in time as today’s modern data centers, servers, storage arrays and even network/comm fabrics are getting more and more overtaxed and saturated with mega-scale data I/O transfers and operations of all types with all kind of data formats (i.e., file, object, HDFS, block, S3, etc.). When you add in the line of business commitments for SLA adherence, data security/integrity, compliance, TCO, upgrades, migrations, control/management, provisioning and the raw growth in data volume (growing by at least 50% a year) IT directors and administrators are getting prolonged headaches.

Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that lately I’m getting asked a lot to clarify the difference between converged storage appliances, hyper-converged/hyper scale-out storage server clusters, and pure software-defined storage systems. So I wanted to make an attempt to provide a high level distinction between a storage hardware appliance and pure software-defined (i.e., shrink wrapped software) storage system, while also providing some considerations of choosing one over the other. In fact, architectural and functional differences are somewhat blurred. So it’s mostly about packaging…but not entirely.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, third platform, storage management

What “Field of Dreams” Can Teach You About IT Projects and IT Operations Management

Posted by Brian Lett | Author Info

Dec 8, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Would you think that the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams” has just as much to do with IT operations as it does with baseball. Remember the backstory? Themovie’s protagonist, Ray Kinsella, is an average and unsuccessful farmer, with regrets about his past. Like many on an IT team who gets struck with a bolt of inspiration – an idea for an IT-related project (a new application or service, probably along the lines of “what if we had a way to…” or “what if we did this:”) – Ray listens to a voice in the night telling him “If you build it, he will come.” He proceeds to plow under his crop, and construct a baseball field in the middle of his Iowa cornfield

 Then Ray’s “project” develops its own momentum – the seemingly now-corporeal ghost of Chicago White Sox outfielder Shoeless Joe Jackson walks out of the cornfield bordering the newly built baseball field, admires everything, thanks Ray for what he’s done, and asks to come back – with “friends.”

 Now Ray on an IT team would have had a similar experience: Someone gets wind he’s been working on a Skunk Works project that, although radical, could be something amazing. Shoeless Joe is like that first test user that becomes the unintentional evangelist, and quickly starts to build a critical mass among users.

 At this stage in the IT project, things are going well: The user base has grown, the old guard (shown in the movie as 1960s anti-establishment author Thomas Mann) at first grudgingly agrees to take a look at the project, then likes what it sees, becomes a strong advocate, and things evolve quickly (maybe even moving to formal alpha testing). In the movie, Shoeless Joe has brought a throng of other now-corporeal ghosts to play baseball once again on Ray’s field (more users, all of whom love the work Ray’s done). And Ray’s wife Annie stands by her man, despite a wave of criticism coming from her brother Mark, the financial advisor and antagonist who absolutely cannot see or understand Ray’s vision, and what he’s done.

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Topics: storage resource management, storage management, Service Assurance, IT Operations

Service Assurance for NFV

Posted by Serge Marokhovsky | Author Info

Dec 1, 2014 9:00:00 AM

There is a growing interest across the telecom industry today with Network Functions Virtualization (NFV). NFV is being evaluated in labs across the world and piloted for production rollout. In particular, larger service providers are steering their strategies around NFV to get in front of the pack and give themselves the agility they lack against the smaller and more aggressive players. A second key driver for NFV is to reduce costs while maintaining carrier class service assurance. With the fast arrival of NFV, are the current OSS & BSS tools in use today going to work in the future when NFV goes mainstream? If so, will they give the operational benefits management is anticipating to achieve with NFV or just keep doing the same thing? Let’s explore the challenges and new opportunities to achieve with service assurance in an NFV environment.

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Topics: storage management, Service Assurance, NFV

Third Party Array Support in ViPR Through OpenStack

Posted by Parashurham Hallur | Author Info

Nov 24, 2014 9:00:00 AM

OpenStack, the truly open cloud operating system, has been evolving since 2010. Since its inception, there have been many projects contributing to the growth of the OpenStack ecosystem. One of them, project code name “Cinder,” provides block storage capability. Any vendor who would like to enable block storage capability for their proprietary storage system is developing the Cinder plugin or Cinder driver. Here is the list of vendors who have developed the Cinder plugin.

EMC ViPR – the first software-defined storage platform of its kind – has been in the news since 2013 and is continuously adding new features to keep it ahead of the competition. A distinguishing feature of ViPR is its ability to support multi-vendor storage systems. In order to extend support for many new storage vendors, ViPR is always looking to enhance its support matrix by adding new storage systems to the support list. Traditionally, adding new storage systems to the list means that EMC, as well as third party vendors are writing new native drivers. This requires a lot of man hours and effort. But what if they could leverage what exists already and save a lot of the time and effort? That would make a lot of sense, right?

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, 3rd Platform, ViPR, OpenStack, storage management

ViPR Interactive Demo: Your Software-Defined Storage Playground

Posted by Hoc Phan | Author Info

Oct 27, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Since the announcement and release of EMC ViPR, you have probably seen many demos for the product. All are good and serve the purpose they were initially intended for, whether it was product training, live data use cases, or customer demos. However, all of those tools require a fairly significant footprint in order to be able to run them. What if you could experience the power of ViPR in a lightweight delivery? Now you can!

Introducing the ViPR Interactive Demo!
The beauty of the ViPR interactive demo is that it can be run on your laptop or tablet with a minimal tax on connectivity and storage. You don’t need to make a special request to access it, only then to be placed in queue for days. The data in the environment is sanitized directly from our two virtual data centers (both multi-million dollar investments). Leveraging an HTML5 front end and focusing on a select set of high priority customer use cases, this demo gives you the flexibility to improvise on your own or follow a scripted story line.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, ViPR, storage management

Flight Attendants and the Internet of Things: Prepare for Landing

Posted by Mark A. O'Connell | Author Info

Oct 20, 2014 9:00:00 AM

In an earlier post, I talked about the Internet of Things and how this will transform both the storage industry and our use of storage. In this blog, I'll explore some possible ramifications of the Internet of Things in a real world setting, see how the Internet of Things will drive new storage requirements, and will demand new forms of storage. For this example, I'll take the case of an airport as well as the passenger’s experience at an airport - examined from the perspective of the passenger, the airlines, and the stores found in the airport.

To start, imagine the passenger experience at an airport. If I were the passenger, what would I want to know about as I land?  For my itinerary, I want to know the gate where my connecting flight leaves, how long it will take me to get there, and the best route to take to get to this gate. Most likely, I’ll want to know where the nearest restroom is en route to my next gate. Depending on how long I have between connections and the time of day, I may want to know where I can get a cup of coffee, a beer, a meal, a magazine or book, or where the nearest airline lounge is located. If I were at the end of my flight, I would want to know where the rental car desk is located (if I have rented a car), otherwise I'd want to know where the nearest taxi stand is along with the projected wait for a taxi.

For the airline, what would they want to know?  As an immediate need (for a particular flight), how far away are the passengers who need to board - and how many more passengers will be able to board if they hold the flight for five or ten minutes? For deplaning passengers, which ones have tight connections and can they be allowed to exit first? How many carts should be at the gate to transport passengers? For long term needs, how can the assignment of flights to gates be optimized based on connection time, number of passengers making the connection, and the like?

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Topics: Big Data, Internet of Things, storage management

EMC is Always Listening to Their Customers!

Posted by Shawn Murphy | Author Info

Oct 1, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Let’s look at a familiar situation. You call a support center for assistance with a product or service - maybe it’s for your cable or even for your dishwasher. You mention to the support representative “this would be a lot easier if…” and they dutifully agree with you and promise to take down your information. Shortly after that call, you receive a survey. Where does that information go? Does it get sent to a manager or disappear into a black hole? After all, these are the people you count on to champion your idea.

You don’t need to worry about your EMC product feedback ending up in a black hole. EMC’s Total Customer Experience (TCE) program has built a long-term strategy which optimizes our programs and strategic relationships, enabling us to improve customer value. The ongoing feedback we receive and analyze enables us to continually implement targeted action plans that align with your input. The action plans are built on real-world feedback and produce impactful and measureable results that directly benefit our customers and partners.

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Topics: ViPR, storage management

What ViPR SRM Can Show You About a VPLEX Environment

Posted by Gary Roberts | Author Info

Sep 22, 2014 9:00:00 AM

VPLEX is EMC’s premier storage virtualization solution. While VPLEX greatly simplifies everyday storage management, storage virtualization has presented storage administrators with new challenges in areas such as reporting, performance troubleshooting and chargeback. In ViPR SRM, new capabilities enable you to peer under the virtualization layer to understand what’s actually going on in a virtualized environment. In a VPLEX environment, ViPR SRM enables a storage administrator to understand how storage capacity is being used, and who is using it to understand end-to-end relationships from host to storage and to verify that VPLEX is configured according to best practices.

For example, a challenge for a storage administrator is to understand, overall, how storage is being used - how much for traditional block or file, how much is virtualized, how much is free, and so forth. New to ViPR SRM, a unified enterprise capacity dashboard shows total storage capacity for the environment in one place, and how it is used. The dashboard includes a view of usable capacity (top middle view), with a bar indicating how much is used for virtual storage. Note that the virtual storage is actually based on physical block storage; so ViPR SRM carefully ensures that this block storage is not counted twice in the enterprise dashboard.

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Topics: Software Defined Storage, storage resource management, ViPR, Virtual Environments, storage management, VPLEX