EMC ViPR 2.0 was just announced today at EMC World. It brings a distinct level of maturity to a product that was only just been brought to market, but is already the most advanced storage controller of heterogeneous arrays. One of the most interesting aspects of the announcement was the leverage of Cinder to provide ViPR a much wider support capability for heterogeneous arrays!
If you haven’t heard of ViPR, it’s not “storage virtualization” in the sense that you’re familiar with. It’s a control-plane product like Virtual Center rather than a virtualization product like the hypervisor ESXi. ViPR discovers storage, SAN, and hosts and controls the provisioning and connectivity of those assets together. It virtualizes (in a sense) heterogeneous storage “southbound” and provides the common higher function API “northbound” to any framework product that wants an easy way to communicate with the Software Defined Storage layer.
Enough similar products and management frameworks have been created over the years for the SNIA storage standards organization to create an API standard called SMIS. EMC VMAX and VNX have SMIS providers for instance that ViPR can use to manage provisioning on these arrays. Other vendors do not so easily provide or so fully support the SMIS standard, and as such ViPR can’t use a standards-based approach to managing them. Thus the EMC ViPR team was left with creating plugins for each and every array to provide provisioning support–a daunting task indeed.
Enter the OpenStack community. I’m sure as we were throwing our weight into the OpenStack community, some smart-gal-or-guy in our Advanced Software Division said, “Hang on a sec. All these vendors are producing Cinder plugins for OpenStack. Why can’t ViPR just leverage them?” And where SMIS couldn’t deliver, a viable open source community has created a widely adopted API for OpenStack.
Let’s make sure you understand this. We’ve had Cinder API support for “Northbound” into OpenStack. This provides OpenStack the ability to provision block storage against ViPR-as-a-virtual-storage-array. This new announcement leverages every other vendor’s Cinder support to provide ViPR the ability to communicate “Southbound” into the array and manage it with ViPR-as-a-SDS-controller. This is a VERY different animal and instantly provides ViPR a wide range of heterogeneous storage management and automation capabilities.
Added to this common industry storage support, the ViPR team has now announced a plugin support (rich data services support) for Hitachi arrays, with more on the way. Great stuff from the EMC ViPR team.