For storage giant EMC, the push is on to define its software-defined storage strategy while ensuring the company minimizes the potential impact on its existing storage technology business.
Amitabh Srivastava, president of advanced storage at EMC, outlined EMC's software-defined storage strategy of analysts at Wednesday's EMC and VMware 2013 Strategic Forum for institutional investors, noting that the storage industry will have to change in response to the vast amount of data stored and the ways customers are looking to access it.
The amount of data stored is expected to grow quickly to 40 zettabytes by 2020, Srivastava said. At the same time, customers increasingly will be demanding storage infrastructures that are always available, are available where the user needs it, and provide automated capacity growth.
"We have to pause and rethink how data is stored, and how it is managed," Srivastava said.
Customers will be looking to cut management costs even as they look for increased storage automation, and will be looking for flexibility in vendor choice and how capacity is acquired, Srivastava said.
In addition, applications will increasingly require scale-out and geographically distributed storage infrastructures without the need for rewriting them, he said.
That means storage vendors will have to decouple storage policy management from the hardware, account for customers' desire for heterogeneous storage environments, provide the ability to add new storage capabilities across all platforms and not just to individual arrays, and ensure that the storage software understands and leverages the capabilities of all storage hardware, he said.
"This is what storage virtualization should have been in the first place," he said.
EMC's definition of software-defined storage includes capacity that is scalable across multiple geographies, and across commodity servers or on EMC or third-party arrays, the ability to virtualize all the underlying storage into pools, and open APIs so any vendor, partner, or customer can build the controllers needed to access the underlying storage hardware, Srivastava said.
Because of EMC's storage software capabilities and its commodity x86 server-based hardware, the company has the advantage over the multitude of software-defined storage startups that can provide only parts of the entire infrastructure, Srivastava said.
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