To understand the disruption that cloud computing has unleashed on enterprise IT, we can look to the real-world example of Netflix.
The streaming media company — which offers its services through applications that are built into Internet-connected high-definition TVs, set-top boxes and Blu-ray players — has effectively shelved the local storage model for media consumption (VHS tapes and DVDs) and replaced it with a software user interface and digital streams.
Enterprise storage is seeing a similar shift as the cloud allows IT to worry less about physical hard drives and tape storage and concentrate more on “streaming” applications and data from the cloud.
Continuing with the TV analogy, a universal remote enables people to manage their TVs (or homes) from a single controller.
The need for such a tool is also evident in storage computing, says David Goulden, EMC’s president and chief operating officer.
“The first thing that a software-defined storage layer needs to do is basically give you a universal remote,” says Goulden. “So now you can manage and provision your storage from one place, not from five different places. This is what we call the control layer. And that at its very simplest is what software-defined storage actually does.”
EMC launched ViPRat EMC World this past May to offer precisely that kind of storage functionality, he says. ViPR has two main features: a universal remote and a data services layer for new types of storage.
The universal remote within the ViPRcontroller lets IT managers provision and manage different types of storage, including non-EMC products. It presents that entire environment as a series of virtual storage arrays and lets the systems administrator set up policies and self-service portals so the company’s users can easily provision storage as a service.
In the data services layers, EMC provides interfaces for new types of applications, such as object storage and the Hadoop Distributed File System for unstructured data.
“So ViPR will go and discover your storage environment for you,” Goulden says. “It will tell you what’s out there, ask you how much of it you wanted to manage. And it will let you rapidly provision that storage in self-service catalogs so you can have gold, silver or bronze levels of storage and different types,:file block, replicated, or not.”
As more organizations migrate to the cloud, IT mangers will also have to make decisions on whether a private cloud or a public cloud makes sense for a particular application. EMC has a strong private-cloud offering that it has built through VCE, its joint venture with VMware and Cisco Systems, in which they offer the Vblock converged infrastructure of servers, switches and storage.
But Goulden points out that while an on-premises private cloud may cost less in certain scenarios, there are also times when public-cloud options make more economic sense. In one example cited by Goulden, one data center had 150 cores of compute capacity and a 500 terabyte data warehouse.
Assuming that the computer capacity was being used about 40 percent of the time for a fairly data-intensive application, in terms of the data-to-compute ratio, the on-premises system was still less expensive.
In another example, EMC used 1,000 cores and only 100TB of a data warehouse. In this case, this type of bursty application was less expensive in a public cloud. “So the point I’m making is in a couple of different application worlds, we shouldn’t be scared by the public cloud,” Goulden says.
“The public cloud is actually a great thing. It has taught people that IT can be agile and flexible and can be offered in a different way as a service. But here again, the opportunity is to offer IT as a service inside the company at prices that are at or below the public cloud. And that is a reality that we can all strive towards.”
To learn more about David Goulden and EMC's vision for the future of IT, visit his leadership session . For more insights and ideas from leaders in technology, check out the rest of the Bring IT On Leadership Series .