Virtualize all the things means storage too

Remember when we started virtualizing servers? The problem we were solving was under-utilization and hardware abstraction. I guess I could go back to the first GUI OS’ and the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) but let’s stay on topic for once.

So we virtualized servers in order to get better utilization, reduce operating costs, add redundancy and allow for mobility across vendor platforms. Today we are seeing storage vendors try and tackle the same problem. EMC is doing this with ViPR, NetApp has vFiler, HP has StoreServ, there are also smaller startups like Pernix and Atlantis trying to do similar things. Even VMware to some extent is trying to virtualize the storage layer with VSAN.

What does this mean? Well it means that everyone realizes that we need to abstract from yet another hardware layer this time the SAN and Storage. Part of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) is the idea of it running anywhere on any hardware. Everyone has different ways they do this and to varying degrees of success. But the way EMC has approached it is to say let’s manage the provisioning of storage on our own platforms but also allow for other storage vendors’ products to be provisioned with the same feature rich capabilities that led our customers to buy them in the first place.

Now not all storage virtualization is equal so EMC’s approach is a cool premise. By using ViPR to create the connections between physical server or virtual host and the storage, ViPR is able to reduce provisioning time and be a part of a larger service catalog approach to consuming IT. Cool right?

Billy Mayes’ time, “But wait there’s more”! In addition to managing EMC and other vendors’ storage ViPR 2.0 is able to handle commodity storage through ScaleIO. Meaning now we can manage server connected storage (think disks in the server drive bays) and link them together to form a commodity storage SAN. But we aren’t finished ViPR allows for storage pooling, expansion and can even be used to assign storage QoS.

When I think of ViPR I think of all that was promised with F5 ARX that never quite made it to reality. An awesome product that in the end was too cumbersome to be effective. Where it didn’t work was trying to control the access to the storage instead of building the connection between the servershosts and the array and then getting out of the way. ViPR does just that it’s virtualizing and abstracting at the controller level but the hosts and servers maintain their own connection to the storage.

I am not promising the world after all it is just version 2.0 but if you love virtualizing all the things, and want to avoid vendor lock in even in storage ViPR is worth a look. Best part is this is a free product for non-Prod use.  So take it for a spin

*Full Disclosure I work for EMC as a vSpecialists I don’t think that is a surprise to anyone but I’ll put it out there. I don’t get compensated to say anything nice about EMC and all opinions on this blog are my own.