EMC creates VMware-inspired storage system

BOSTON EMC Corp. continued its private cloud push on Monday unveiling a new virtual storage system that will allow IT admins to pool and share storage resources across multiple data centre sites.

The VPlex appliance, EMC said, will be an integral part of an enterprise’s private cloud.  The systems, which can move data between EMC and non-EMC platforms, will be immediately available in two forms: VPlex Local and VPlex Metro.

With VPlex Local, customers can move data within the data centre. It features a single cluster with support for up to 8,000 virtualized storage volumes.

For customers with two data centres located within 100 kilometres of each other, VPlex Metro will enable IT admins to link two VPlex clusters. This system, which will allow companies to synchronize and relocate I/O data between two sites, can help customers with disaster recovery efforts or let them balance workloads as needed.

VPlex will also work with EMC’s Fully Automated Storage Tiering (FAST) system to help build out the virtual storage vision.

Pricing for VPlex Local offering will start off at US$77,000, but it will also be offered via a subscription pricing service starting at US$26,000.

The company unveiled both appliances as it kicked off EMC World 2010 in Boston.

The concept is the storage industry’s equivalent to VMware Inc.’s server virtualization technology, as it turns physical storage arrays into virtual storage arrays.  VPlex also features some elements of VMware’s VMotion tool, because admins that have excess storage capacity in one data centre can link to another.

Pat Gelsinger, president and COO of EMC’s Information Infrastructure Products division, said that while organizations can move virtualized servers over great distances today, the same isn’t true about terabytes of storage. With VPlex, he said, companies can move vast quantities of stored information across data centres.

“This will fundamentally enable new models of computing,” he said.

In addition to Monday’s launch announcement, EMC also unveiled plans to release two more versions of VPlex by 2011.  VPlex Geo will allow customers to asynchronously federate storage clusters and move data across continental distances, while VPlex Global will enable distributed data access both synchronous or asynchronous across the entire globe.

Brian Gallagher, president of EMC’s storage virtualization product, said the move to the private cloud is a journey. He also stressed that the future VPlex updates will eventually enable companies to link smaller data centres around the world into one single, cloud-based IT infrastructure.

In addition to the disaster recovery and more balanced workload use cases, companies moving toward the globally linked private cloud could also schedule batch processes in data centres with lower energy costs.

CEO Joe Tucci said the technology will be a “game-changer” for the industry and will push companies on the fence to explore the private cloud option.

“The key to make this work is the federation of resources,” he said.

Tucci added that tomorrow’s IT shops will rely on a tightly integrated private cloud working with a smattering of public clouds. Technologies such as VPlex, he said, will be the key to helping build out the private cloud side of things.

The systems support companies using VMWare, Microsoft Hyper-V, Oracle and Red Hat Linux virtual machines. The only limitation is the systems only support block-based data replication, as opposed to file or object-based storage devices.

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