Melbourne IT plans to deploy EMC's new VPLEX storage federation and virtualization array

EMC has announced a new storage virtualization device, named VPLEX, which allows the creation of logical storage resources that span physical arrays on multiple sites. Local beta tester Melbourne IT plans to deploy the product.

EMC today announced VPLEX, a new storage device that sits between servers and storage, federating arrays into logical volumes even though the actual devices may be resident on multiple sites.

EMC says the new hardware “... transparently pools the resources of multiple storage systems locally and over distance and allows them to work together.” 

The new product comes in two flavours, “local” and “metro,” with the former designed for use in a single large data center or campus. The latter allows arrays to be up to 100 kilometers apart, but still remain part of the same federated storage pool.

EMC will sell the new device as “VPLEX Engines”, with each boasting “multi-core Intel Xeon processors, 32GB intelligent cache pools and 8 Gb/s (gigabit per second) Fibre Channel host and array connections.” The local version of the product clusters four Engines while the metro version uses two such clusters.

Australian company Melbourne IT has beta-tested the new device, having applied to EMC to be involved in product design to solve the problem of scaling customers whose equipment resides in a data center that has run out of space.

“One of our challenges has been to push down the virtualization path,” Melbourne IT Chief Technology Officer Glenn Gore told SearchStorageANZ. “We’ve been getting great achievements at the server level but storage has been more difficult. We have previously solved it by moving data within a data centre.” The company is now, however, finding some of its data centres are full or cannot house more equipment due to environmental or electricity-availability issues. “Now we need to move loads between data centres,” Gore said.

For Melbourne IT’s customers, moving data between SANs can represent an unwelcome source of complexity or disruption, leading Gore to wonder how the company might use storage across its facilities without disturbing customers.

Early rumours of VPLEX’s capabilities piqued his interest.

“When we heard there was a new virtualization product we pushed hard and were accepted into the product development cycle. We flew to the USA for training and product feedback sessions.”

Gore said VPLEX is a “physical appliance that sits between the server and storage infrastructure. It’s a new layer. We needed to remap between servers and storage so it [VPLEX] sits in the middle. You take the arrays and re-present them through VPLEX.”

VPLEX, he added, has its own management interface dedicated to storage federation, and also takes over many array management functions such as provisioning. Gore said VPLEX can perform those chores for arrays from multiple vendors, but has not tested that function. The company has, however, tested VPLEX on production workloads, and plans to deploy it once it is fully released.

"I think the real benefits our customers will see from Melbourne IT implementing VPLEX is a range of new products and services in the hosting space that allows us to spread a service across multiple geographic-diverse data centers which is uplifting the availability and disaster recovery capabilities for mission-critical applications,” he said in an EMC press release.

EMC is pitching the new devices as the foundation of private storage clouds.

At the time of writing SearchStorage ANZ had only been provided a press release, rather than the chance to interview EMC executives. The release quote EMC’s, President and Chief Operating Officer for Information Infrastructure Products, Patrick Gelsinger, as saying he expects the product will “ ... do to storage what server virtualization has done to computing and will provide game changing levels of efficiency and flexibility. The ability to share, move and access large amounts of data regardless of location is a key element of the Journey to the Private Cloud. VPLEX technology will enable follow the sun computing, the relocating of workloads to low-cost energy regions or moving them out of the way of approaching storms – in general, IT environments will be more dynamic and flexible than ever before.”

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