EMC Canada said partners have to understand its concept of storage virtualization as they usually are the first point of contact for many of its clients.
“”Three years ago we were a 100 per cent direct company,”” said Michael Kerr, director of channels and business development at EMC Canada, which
has since added 30 partners here, including NexInnovations Inc.
“”The key for us will be getting that message out to our partners and client set.””
He described EMC’s approach as managing the customers’ data and making it transparent to the application. Kerr added some vendors in the past proclaimed the server should determine where the data goes and the storage device is the “”dumb thing that’s out there.””
EMC Corp. recently previewed the upcoming release of its multi-vendor storage virtualization offering that it hopes will help customers “”eliminate their storage pain points.””
These include continuous availability to applications, scalability allowing more users in more locations, more devices connected to larger storage area networks and more applications, and optimization of storage assets with data value, said Mark Lewis, executive vice-president of EMC software.
Lewis delivered his keynote address at last month’s Storage Networking World in Orlando, Fla. on the “”new wave of storage innovations.”” These solutions are designed to help customers implement their information life-cycle management (ILM) strategies.
Over the last year, EMC has announced more than 30 new ILM-related offerings, of which it previewed several at SNW, including its Storage Router network-based storage virtualization solution. The solution is scheduled to debut in the first half of 2005, said Lewis.
“”We’ve done virtualization in the arrays for many years and we believe the focus there is about data protection and data preservation”” said Lewis.
“”What’s new about the storage routers is this is the first time that we’re going to introduce the network storage virtualization directly in the network. That’s going to be focused on the value proposition around virtual data access and data connectivity.””
The pain points
Lewis said a major pain point is around the idea of reducing planned downtime, meaning literally that. Top reasons for planned downtime include scheduled maintenance such as reconfiguration and physical device change such as migration. According to EMC, this accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of total downtime.
“”Our customers are getting less and less tolerant of downtime,”” said Lewis.
Downtime costs can run up to millions of dollars an hour. Retail brokerage, for example, can cost a company $6.4 million an hour.
While storage area networks have offered customers benefits such as consolidation, pooling of storage and better utilization of resources, Lewis said, it also puts strain on the network. “”The issue that you have is now you have to build a grid that’s more and more robust. The network itself has to be more and more robust because you have more people dependent on a single environment.””
Lewis said the environment not only needs to be reliable but it also can never go down.
“”Holy Grail”” of storage
Virtualization has been the “”Holy Grail”” of storage for some time, Kerr said. “”The customers and storage pundits have been talking about (virtualization) for a long time,”” said Kerr. “”The concept is I really don’t care where the data is, as long as I can always get it. Having a system manage that is incredibly complicated. Behind the scenes, the technology has just never been able to do it.””
Benefits of storage virtualization include the ability for customers to physically move data, for example from one array to another, but maintain access to the application. This way, the user never has to bring the application down during the migration, explained Lewis, comparing it to the Internet.
“”It’s why the Internet can have a lot of little ups and downs and yet I can still type in www.emc.com. Even with things changing in the environment, there’s a virtual D-LAN and D-WAN environment that’s really a self-healing environment.””
Lewis added that storage networks are starting to build out with the same complexity that local area networks and wide area networks were 10 to 15 years ago.
ILM a strategy, not a product
“”The key for (ILM) is that it’s not a product it’s a strategy,”” said Kerr. “”Data has various characteristics depending on it’s life within various companies. Each company is very unique.””
Kerr said journalists, for example, have different expectations of access to an article depending on where it sits in the life-cycle.
Howard Goldberg, president of Skydata Corp., an EMC Canada distributor, describes ILM as matching data to the cost of storage.
“”Pretty much the entire EMC solution set is geared towards that.””
EMC Clariion platform permits the user to intermix high-performance fibre channel drives with lower-performance ATA drives in the same frame.
“”Where can we go with ILM?”” asked Goldberg. “”We can go pretty well anywhere we want. What EMC has to offer does that for us, so let’s continue on with that same scenario.””