EMC ViPR Overview

EMC ViPR Logo Icon

EMC showed off ViPR (previously known as Project Bourne) at EMC World 2013. ViPR is EMC’s solution for Software Defined Storage (SDS), helping to round out the EMC² family’s (EMC, VMware, Pivotal, RSA) Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) vision. Dave provided our introductory coverage of ViPR here. Since being unveiled at EMC World, I’ve heard some confusion in social media circles over what exactly ViPR is – along the lines of ‘ask 10 people what ViPR is and get 10 different answers’. To try to clear up some confusion, here is a brief overview of ViPR.

First, keep in mind that ViPR is not a point solution. That is to say, you cannot pin a single function on it (e.g. it is not a block-based storage array, a stand-alone array management tool, or an array-based replication solution). To be sure, ViPR includes functions of those point solutions, but is much more. EMC describes ViPR like this:

“EMC ViPR is a storage virtualization software platform that abstracts storage from physical arrays – whether file, block or object-based – into a pool of virtual shared storage resources that enables a flexible storage consumption model across physical arrays and the delivery of applications and innovative data services.”

In short, ViPR is a powerful, flexible storage control plane, decoupled from for all of the physical storage resources in the enterprise.  This allows arrays, replication solutions (e.g. Recover Point), and array virtualization solutions (e.g. VPLEX) to act as what they are best at – the data plane.  With data plane and control plane decoupled, centralized management and high degrees of automation become simple – even with heterogeneous storage solutions from multiple vendors, across datacenters, and within 3rd party solutions (think VMware vSphere or vCloud Director).

EMC VIPR Diagram

With ViPR, enterprise IT will have a robust tool to automatically provision storage resources using pre-defined policy-driven workflows against virtual storage arrays – whether on-premise EMC storage (VNX, VMAX, Isilon), 3rd party storage (NetApp, HDS, etc.), or cloud storage services including Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, or Atmos.

With ViPR, all of the native array (or cloud storage API) functionality is exposed to the storage administrator, who can then carve up virtual storage pools with different characteristics and capabilities, and automatically present those virtual storage pools to storage consumers through a self-service catalog, or automatically zone and connect virtual storage to physical or virtual servers. EMC intends to expand on these concepts as the product matures, building in new adapters and capabilities for increased datacenter automation. A quick example of what is coming: picture ViPR detecting that a new VMware ESXi host is added to vCenter (or maybe even sees a new Cisco UCS blade with an ESXi-specific service profile is turned on), and ViPR goes out, discovers the host, the host storage connectivity (FC HBA WWN, iSCSI IQN), zones your FC switches, presents LUNs (on the best array for the workload), configures array-based replication, time based snapshots, and monitoring/alerting for the full stack: all automatically.

In addition to these services, ViPR will also offer global data services for the enterprise, including simplified provisioning of Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) and Object-on-File services. Object-on-File is interesting in that organizations can continue to write unstructured data (images, video, documents) to file, without having to do any application re-writes, then access those files through ViPR’s Object-based storage capabilities for additional policy tagging, data mining, etc. without having to copy or move the data a second time. Array snapshots, replication, and other storage services can still be employed against this data, offering an incredible amount of flexibility for how organizations store and use large amounts of data.

ViPR is an exciting product that promises to extend automation, virtualization, and plug-and-play simplicity to increasingly complex datacenter storage systems. Stay tuned for more info – we’ll be posting blog entries and talking with our customers about how ViPR can help automate their software defined datacenter as the product continues to pick up steam.

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