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June 23, 2003
EMC Shifts Into Second Gear
By Evan Koblentz

A unique form of storage virtualization and a new systems management technology will highlight EMC Corp.'s software plans for next year.

According to officials of the Hopkinton, Mass., company, the moves will come under the banner of infrastructure services and represent the second part of EMC's three-part AutoIS plan, begun in October 2001.

The first tier was intelligent supervision, led by EMC's ControlCenter software and WideSky middleware. The final piece will incorporate ongoing work in backup technologies, said Chris Gahagan, EMC's senior vice president for storage infrastructure services, in an interview at the company's Cambridge Software Development Center here last week.

Capabilities for virtualization, or the management of disparate storage as one logical group, will ship as a major upgrade of EMC's PowerPath software, used for managing connections among applications, servers and storage, Gahagan said. The new version is due by the end of next year, he said.

The software will come as a preinstalled option in Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. models of EMC's Connectrix storage switch family, Gahagan said. A second version will be available for switches that don't support network-resident software.

"We're only going to put enough software on this switch to control the routing," with metadata stored on arrays, Gahagan said. By doing so, users will have the control of an in-band solution but without the performance sacrifice, he said.

In addition, "It'll have its own native SMI [Storage Management Initiative] provider," Gahagan said, referring to the Storage Networking Industry Association's version of the evolving Common Information Model for management tasks.

Users have knocked many of EMC's core storage management products, such as ControlCenter, for being too proprietary when launched. But this virtualization effort could help the storage vendor overcome that reputation, users said.

"I would use virtualization if it is truly virtualization," said Ashish Nadkarni, senior engineer at Computer Sciences Corp., an El Segundo, Calif., integration and outsourcing company. CSC has well over a petabyte of data, much of it on EMC-powered SANs (storage area networks). However, in helping to run the features, "to me it is another way of saying we'll sell you more hardware," Nadkarni said.

Seeds of EMC's virtualization agenda will be planted this fall and move toward the systems management arena early next year, Gahagan said. The fall launch of PowerPath 4.1 includes a built-in volume manager, plus a feature called Mobility to keep application data flowing if SAN components fail or are stopped for maintenance, he said. PowerPath 4.1 will ship first for so-called active-active architectures such as EMC's Symmetrix; versions of Hitachi Ltd.'s 9900-series arrays; and IBM's Enterprise Storage System, known as Shark. A version of Mobility for active-passive designs such as EMC's CLARiiON, other Hitachi models and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Enterprise Virtual Array series will ship in the second half of next year, Gahagan said. Another point release, not yet named, will come early next year to add dynamic server provisioning.

Gahagan said the systems management is a requisite step to achieving ACSM (application-centric storage management), a concept he championed in his former job at BMC Software Inc., in Houston. ACSM dictates that storage gear should accommodate applications' needs—not vice versa. But that can't happen unless application vendors have a reliable way to move data, he said.
According to officials of the Hopkinton, Mass., company, the moves will come under the banner of infrastructure services and represent the second part of EMC's three-part AutoIS plan, begun in October 2001.

The first tier was intelligent supervision, led by EMC's ControlCenter software and WideSky middleware. The final piece will incorporate ongoing work in backup technologies, said Chris Gahagan, EMC's senior vice president for storage infrastructure services, in an interview at the company's Cambridge Software Development Center here last week.

Capabilities for virtualization, or the management of disparate storage as one logical group, will ship as a major upgrade of EMC's PowerPath software, used for managing connections among applications, servers and storage, Gahagan said. The new version is due by the end of next year, he said.

The software will come as a preinstalled option in Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. models of EMC's Connectrix storage switch family, Gahagan said. A second version will be available for switches that don't support network-resident software.
"We're only going to put enough software on this switch to control the routing," with metadata stored on arrays, Gahagan said. By doing so, users will have the control of an in-band solution but without the performance sacrifice, he said.

In addition, "It'll have its own native SMI [Storage Management Initiative] provider," Gahagan said, referring to the Storage Networking Industry Association's version of the evolving Common Information Model for management tasks.

Users have knocked many of EMC's core storage management products, such as ControlCenter, for being too proprietary when launched. But this virtualization effort could help the storage vendor overcome that reputation, users said.

"I would use virtualization if it is truly virtualization," said Ashish Nadkarni, senior engineer at Computer Sciences Corp., an El Segundo, Calif., integration and outsourcing company. CSC has well over a petabyte of data, much of it on EMC-powered SANs (storage area networks). However, in helping to run the features, "to me it is another way of saying we'll sell you more hardware," Nadkarni said.

Seeds of EMC's virtualization agenda will be planted this fall and move toward the systems management arena early next year, Gahagan said. The fall launch of PowerPath 4.1 includes a built-in volume manager, plus a feature called Mobility to keep application data flowing if SAN components fail or are stopped for maintenance, he said. PowerPath 4.1 will ship first for so-called active-active architectures such as EMC's Symmetrix; versions of Hitachi Ltd.'s 9900-series arrays; and IBM's Enterprise Storage System, known as Shark. A version of Mobility for active-passive designs such as EMC's CLARiiON, other Hitachi models and Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Enterprise Virtual Array series will ship in the second half of next year, Gahagan said. Another point release, not yet named, will come early next year to add dynamic server provisioning.

Gahagan said the systems management is a requisite step to achieving ACSM (application-centric storage management), a concept he championed in his former job at BMC Software Inc., in Houston. ACSM dictates that storage gear should accommodate applications' needs—not vice versa. But that can't happen unless application vendors have a reliable way to move data, he said.

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Last Modified: March 9, 2008