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By making its APIs openly available, EMC can be at the center of the software-defined storage movement, he said. "Building a product is not enough," he said. "You need to build a community. ... We're opening up APIs so new services can be built by partners or customers."
When questioned about how EMC's software-defined storage strategy might impact the company's existing storage business, Srivastava said that EMC's approach will be a gradual one that works initially with customers' existing storage infrastructures.
Over time, Srivastava said, as customers adopt new storage technologies such as commodity storage hardware, EMC will be ready to work with them. "Because our approach is less rip-and-replace, and more gradual, we will be successful," he said.
Srivastava also said it is important to remember that different storage hardware offers different capabilities, making it possible to differentiate one vendor's hardware from another's even as software-defined storage is adopted.
For example, EMC's Isilon line is designed for scale-out storage applications, while EMC's VMAX line is designed for performance and high availability. "I don't know how the mix will change or not," he said. "We're going to provide value with the unique systems we are building."
How storage is managed in a software-defined storage world depends on customers' IT infrastructures, Srivastava said.
For instance, a customer with an IT environment virtualized using technology from VMware, which is 80 percent owned by EMC, the software-defined storage will be managed directly through VMware, he said. If the customer is using another management environment, EMC will provide APIs that will allow the software-defined storage to be managed by that environment. For other customers, the management will be handled by storage administrators.
"We're adding intelligence," he said. "We're not replacing intelligence."
Software-defined storage, because of its ability to pool storage resources across multiple arrays, will be useful to any customer with more than one storage array and who is looking to simplify their management, Srivastava said. Software-defined storage will be even more useful if those arrays are from multiple vendors, he said.
Srivastava said EMC is planning a second-half 2013 release of its first software-defined storage technology, which takes advantage of all the capabilities he outlined.
PUBLISHED MARCH 15, 2013