EMC Outlines Global Storage Networking Vision

Monday Mar 15th 2010 by Paul Shread
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The data storage giant envisions a massive, global storage network without distance, performance or data consistency limitations.

EMC (NYSE: EMC) is working on massive, global storage networking technology that the company claims moves well beyond its Atmos cloud storage platform.

In a presentation by EMC storage and security division president Pat Gelsinger and a blog by Global Marketing CTO Chuck Hollis, EMC outlined its vision for a globally distributed storage network that overcomes limitations of latency, bandwidth and data consistency.

The executives suggested that the vision could soon become a product, promising more details at EMC World in May.

In his blog, Hollis said one possibility for such a network would be "to seriously consider moving thousands of VMs over thousands of miles. Or you could easily play the market on energy costs by moving workloads to where they're most efficient to run."

Big data centers could be created from smaller ones, and information placed closer to users, he said, and applications could be moved to avoid downtime.

Atmos, Hollis wrote, is "somewhat constrained to data with low-to-moderate change rate — not to mention requiring applications that can bridge to object models."

EMC's vision, Hollis said, is a "more generic block-level abstraction that can handle high I/O rates and not limit the choice of apps."

Hollis said the technology combines a "distributed cache coherence" and globally federated storage to create "an entirely new model for storage."

By creating "a consistent global view of storage and cache state" at high-performance levels, "it becomes generically applicable to just about any enterprise use case you'd care to consider. Yes, it's rocket science."

The federated storage pools could be "delivered as both an appliance that works with most any storage, or perhaps as a feature of the storage array itself," he said.

"This is the space that traditional storage virtualization (whether array, appliance, network or server-based) has typically played, although with some well-known limitations," wrote Hollis. "The more compelling use case is multiple nodes at serious distance — call it global federation. That's where the mind starts to reel a bit at the entirely new potentials. And if we could do both with the exact same technology — well, that would be useful as well, wouldn't it?"

Hollis suggested that EMC's ambitions don't stop there.

"Actually, there's much more to the EMC virtual storage story that we're working on," he said, "but I think that's plenty to consider for now."

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