EMC switches storage virtualization gears

EMC Corp.’s next generation storage virtualization product, Invista, is coming to the channel, just not today.

The company’s new integrated hardware and software network storage virtualization solution will enable organizations to move or migrate data and applications across many heterogeneous

storage arrays. The Invista is part of EMC’s information lifecycle management strategy, but the product priced at $225,000 for a 64-terabyte configuration will initially not be available to the channel.

Ken Steinhardt, director technology analysis at EMC, said initial rollout will be to large data centre customers typically financial services companies, telcos, large healthcare providers and high end research.

However, there is a plan to eventually move Invista to the channel, he said. “I have no guess as to when the channel will have a play,” Steinhardt said.

He added that the move downscale to partners will happen, but that the initial rollout had to be done direct because of the nature of large enterprise customers and their needs for the right feature set and support issues.

“We just wanted to be able to smother these customers with support and make sure 100 per cent of the initial customers are totally satisfied,” he said.

The initial Invista customer rollout will not be more than 100, Steinhardt said. The business opportunity for the channel will still be there when Invista is made available to them especially in vertical application integration, where Steinhardt believes partners will play a major role.

Invista is a fairly large announcement for EMC relative to storage virtualization, Steinhardt added.

“We’ve taken a different approach with Invista. Now you will be able to address customer problems with Invista specifically with no disruptive operation,” he said.

According to Steinhardt, EMC has changed the technology to an out-of-band architecture that leverages intelligent switches on all three levels: server, storage network and storage.

Currently organizations would have to either shut down production entirely, have planned outages or risk performance in the infrastructure to do application refreshes, change technologies, or switch from one vendor product to another. With Invista, you can have an application running around the clock, while your IT manager makes changes underneath it at the storage level, Steinhardt said.

“In 1995 it was a single server with a single application, but today organizations have grown so fast that there is a complexity explosion happening. And, keeping it live is very important,” Steinhardt said.

He added that applications have to be in a 24/7 environment and be running at full performance. EMC wanted to address this need instead of moving RAID upstream.

“The concept of virtualization is not new,” Steinhardt said. “Virtual memory happened in the 1960s. Lets fool the server. It is seeing one physical disk instead of many (in a RAID format for example).”

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