EMC is targeting the cloud services provider market with bundled storage system, software and services packages called VMAX SP.

The company made good on its promise to update its VMAX slate after its high-end storage business saw a disappointing 10 percent drop in revenue last quarter despite otherwise strong financials. To help reverse that slide, EMC is pinning its hopes on VMAX SP — SP stands for Service Provider, fittingly — to court the outsized IT budgets of the sizzling cloud services provider market.

VMAX SP is a “natural evolution” of the IT giant’s enterprise storage strategy, said Brian Gallagher, president of EMC’s Enterprise Storage Division in a company statement. It’s also recognition of market dynamics that are steadily tipping in favor of cloud infrastructures.

“We’re seeing enterprises increasingly turn to service providers to extend their own data centers in an effort to achieve new levels of consolidation, automation and efficiency,” said Gallagher. For EMC, that means bundling storage, software and services to simplify management and speed cloud storage deployments — as little as four hours, said the company.

Bundling Storage for the Cloud

VMAX SP will be available via four service-level options: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. It blends VMAX storage arrays with software-enabled multi-tenancy support and EMC’s new Intelligence Engine, which provides auto-provisioning, embedded cloning and storage management.

VMAX SP ships with RESTful API support, exposing metering and reporting hooks that cloud providers can use for chargebacks and related service level functionality. When used in conjunction with the platform’s automated provisioning, EMC estimates organizations can slash their management costs by up to 30 percent.

Also on tap is a self-service portal, where cloud providers can configure tiers of service. The portal provides access to usage statistics along with metering, multi-tenancy and chargeback functions.

But will cloud services providers bite? Enterprise Strategy Group’s Mark Peters thinks EMC did a good job of integrating and aligning the enterprise storage offering with the needs of a service provider market currently struggling with the storage piece of the puzzle.

The senior analyst said in a statement, “These organizations usually don’t voluntarily become storage experts, but often they have been compelled to do so — at a high cost in terms of money and management resources — in order to ensure that their environments are delivering the high availability, security and workload-appropriate, scalable storage that customers demand.”

The strategy could have a long lasting effect on how cloud data center operators buy storage. “The customized approach that EMC is taking with VMAX SP constitutes a significant improvement in the way such service providers will be able to buy, consume and manage storage in the future,” added Peters.

VMAX SP is subject to limited availability during the third quarter via select channel partners. General availability is planned for 2013.

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