EMC Continues Its Cloud Barrage at EMC World

By Drew Robb

Tuesday at EMC World brought another day of wall-to-wall product announcements and enhancements. The common denominator was cloud computing.

The keynote by VMware CEO Paul Maritz kicked off the day's cloud messaging, though with an open source twist. Maritz explained that the company is now giving away its hypervisor, as the value add has shifted over to vSphere, which takes care of resource pooling, scheduling and management.

"We are moving from being a hypervisor company to a data center infrastructure management company," said Maritz.

He announced the release of a product known as CloudBoundary, a real-time analytics application. It applies statistical learning to build a profile of the infrastructure to help admins determine whether it is healthy. "CloudBoundary spots patters and gives you much earlier warning of the beginning stages of a problem," said Maritz.

He described it as an open-source cloaking layer for cloud management. It is available via a standard open source licensing set up. As such, it takes care of cloud-based scaling and scheduling via policy setting. The idea is that it automatically works out the right scale for various apps sent to the cloud. "We hired in people from Google to help us design it," said Maritz. "20,000 developers have signed up to test CloudBoundary in the first two weeks."

Long-Distance Cloud Storage

Brian Gallagher, president of EMC's Enterprise Storage Division introduced the latest version of VPlex, known as Geo. At last year's EMC World, the company released VPlex Local and Metro. VPlex federates data located on multiple storage systems -- EMC's as well as those of vendors -- to create a larger pool that can be accessed anywhere. While Local and Metro could extend no more than citywide, Geo can go cross country. Gallagher showed a VPlex Geo implementation set up by EMC (NYSE: EMC) between its headquarters in New England and Las Vegas. EMC believes this to be a cloud computing enabler.

"Applications and data at two locations can be accessed, shared and dynamically moved thousands of miles," said Gallagher. "Two data centers can be utilized as a single highly available, flexible and resilient resource."

New VPlex hardware and software capabilities increase efficiency, non-EMC storage support, availability and connectivity. In addition, the latest version of the VPlex operating system improves storage efficiency by moving or copying virtually provisioned or thinly provisioned devices across EMC and non-EMC arrays. VPlex Geo is scheduled to be available in summer 2011.

Cloud-Enabling EMC Disk Arrays

EMC is going all out to get its products ready for the cloud. For Symmetrix VMax, EMC added several networking, migration and security capabilities. This includes support for Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE), expanded EMC PowerPath and third-party support for Federated Live Migration (FLM), and RSA external key manager for data-at-rest encryption for connected servers.

Another new addition is the EMC Cloud Tiering Appliance, which integrates with EMC VNX and EMC Atmos and can automatically tier inactive files to cloud. It also supports archiving to secondary storage with file retention capability, such as EMC Data Domain, and it will provide automated policy-driven migration. The EMC Cloud Tiering Appliance is available now, although features such as the ability to migrate data from NetApp to Isilon storage will not be available till later this year.

"With the Cloud Tiering Appliance, you can use policy to push data into the cloud and retrieve it," said Rich Napolitano, President of EMC's Unified Storage Division. "You can set it up, for instance to move all JPEGs to the cloud after 30 days, for example."

Further integration with the Google Search Appliance enables information on VNX to be indexed and searchable by employees in minutes instead of hours.

"We have worked with Google to accelerate search by 10X to 100X," said Napolitano.

EMC is also partnering with multitude of service providers to create, deploy, market, sell and deliver private and public cloud services. As part of this, EMC is leveraging its virtualization, information protection, security and management products to help these service providers build IT-as-a-service offerings. This includes Atmos, Isilon, Data Domain, Avamar, RSA and Greenplum, as well as new tools like EMC OnDemand, which provides an off-premise private cloud hosted environment through service providers.

VM Stall and Sprawl

The latest version of EMC Ionix Server Manager delivers virtualization visibility by adding discovery and monitoring of the VMware vSwitch. This allows EMC to integrate physical and virtual management. Through integration with VMware vCenter and vSwitch, Server Manager automatically identifies virtual machines (VMs) whose misconfigured virtual network settings have effectively made the VMs and their associated apps unavailable.

"The inability of an enterprise manager to be able to efficiently pinpoint and resolve infrastructure issues at the virtual machine level is a potential stumbling block in the process of deploying virtualization and cloud technologies," said Jim Frey, Managing Research Director, Network Management, Enterprise Management Associates. "EMC's Ionix Server Manager clears the way for effective problem resolution in these environments."

A Cisco and EMC joint venture known as VCE (Virtual Computing Environment Company) that also includes VMware (NYSE: VMW) and Intel elements has added a Vblock Infrastructure Platform Series 300. With the newest Vblock platform, VCE provides more scalability, performance and automation of data center operations. It includes the latest version of EMC Ionix Unified Infrastructure Manager (UIM) software, which was purpose-built for Vblock platforms. This simplifies and speeds management of cloud computing environments. It incorporates EMC VNX unified storage systems so VCE users can use block and file storage while virtualizing storage pools in Vblock deployments.

A new Vblock Solution for Microsoft Exchange 2010 has been added by VCE. This is an integrated email solution that enables users to scale their virtualized Exchange 2010 environments, lower messaging costs, increase productivity, simplify administration, and decrease IT overhead; while at the same time supporting larger user mailboxes and improving overall email performance and productivity.

Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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This article was originally published on May 11, 2011