Leading the Way on Software Defined Storage

Randy Bias
VP Technology, Emerging Technologies Division, EMC

As the world’s leader in storage and information management, it behooves EMC to lead the way on Software Defined Storage (SDS).

You may have recently seen that EMC announced its first ever open source product: Project CoprHD. CoprHD is a Software Defined Storage automation and management controller, and EMC’s recent decision to open source it is at the crux of our strategy for delivering greater value to global businesses as we enter into an area of growth and extreme change.

Background & Rationale

Cloud computing and the move to the “third platform” are causing a dramatic shift in how we think about data. We now collect, store, manage, and mine that data while it grows at an exponential rate. Collectively we can see this and collectively we can see that storage costs must simultaneously be dramatically reduced. More importantly, we want to be able to access this data rapidly, store it for extended periods of time, and extract valuable data from it. Ultimately, customers demand not only lower costs to operate, but greater speed and agility in using data.

SDS is the answer to lowering the cost of data management while also increasing the agility and nimbleness of the enterprise. At it’s heart SDS is about three things: programmatic automation, storage abstractions and software defined platforms (a topic for another day). Programmatic automation is the ability to unify and control storage resources through an API or set of APIs, preferably as few as possible. Storage abstractions provide the ability to aggregate or “pool” a set of disparate or heterogeneous storage resources into one large resource. Together, the API and the abstractions create an entirely new method for thinking about and managing storage. This is playing out in both networking and compute as well.

SDS is the answer to lowering the cost of data management while also increasing the agility and nimbleness of the enterprise.

Why CoprHD/ViPR Controller Were Chosen

Which brings us back to CoprHD. Our customers are asking us for open source software. They see a world where there is little or no vendor lock-in. Where they can use SDS as a mechanism not only for business enablement mentioned above, but also as a mechanism for vendor independence. EMC wanted to answer this call and hence CoprHD was borne.

But why CoprHD, which was based off of our market leading ViPR Controller, already the #1 controller in the SDS space? Why open source it? Aren’t we losing an advantage? Won’t our competitors outmaneuver us?

CoprHD was chosen because it was the market leader. First of all, how will you change the world or enable your customers if you can’t take risks and change your own business? Second, in looking at ViPR Controller (now open source project CoprHD), we saw the attributes of SDS greatness that could enable our customers:

  • Native support for multiple vendors: EMC, NetApp, Hitachi, and HP
  • Integration to OpenStack Cinder, providing support for additional vendors including: IBM, Dell, LeftHand, Oracle, and Solidfire
  • Support legacy storage arrays such as the VMAX and VNX, modern storage arrays such as XtremIO, and most importantly, third platform software-only storage systems such as ScaleIO
  • Pluggable and extensible architecture
  • Modern scalable design with third platform patterns and components such as:

In all ways that one might evaluate and measure CoprHD, it is clear that open sourcing it would provide massive value for customers looking to modernize their data management and move to a software defined future. So we “did the right thing” and moved forward, hoping that customers would embrace us and that competitors would get involved. And so far it is looking good. Customer feedback has been extremely positive and we are engaged with many who want to become more involved with CoprHD, including partners and competitors.

EMC’s Strategy and the Future

Of course, no effort such as this is without intent. EMC, like any well run company, desires to win, and there is a strategy behind CoprHD’s open sourcing, but it isn’t anything nefarious. It is actually quite simple. We see the shift to the coming third platform as an inevitability for everyone. We would prefer to be leaders in this change. We prefer to become leaders in open source software, which is foundational to the third platform. This means that ultimately, EMC will have to compete on innovation, services, support and deliver on customer desires for vendor neutrality.

We are not only comfortable with this, but we love the opportunity to compete in this manner. EMC has always excelled in these areas. CoprHD creates an open level playing field around Software Defined Storage (SDS) and we think that’s amazing for everyone.

Join us.