EMC Unveils Virtualization Technology

Mark Lewis, executive vice president and chief development officer of EMC, told over 4,000 end-users and partners attending the EMC Technology Summit in New Orleans that its new Invista virtualization solution, previously known as the Storage Router, will be available next quarter to Global 2000 enterprises initially on a direct sales-only basis.

EMC is building specialty teams to take the appliance to market, as it takes time to show the proof-of-concept to customers, Lewis said. "This gives us time to refine it and get it ready for a roll-out to more of a mass market," he said.

Invista fits EMC's belief that virtualization must above all separate the hardware from the software, Lewis said. Storage management is more independent when hardware, software, storage volumes and applications are their own silos. "It allows a great deal of flexibility," he said.

Invista takes advantage of new intelligence being built into SAN switches from Brocade Communication Systems, Cisco and McData to allow the dynamic mapping of applications to their required data. As the data volumes are migrated to other locations, such as during a technology refresh or according to changes in required quality of service levels, that migration does not disrupt the applications, Lewis said. Those volumes can sit on storage arrays from multiple vendors, including EMC, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi Data Systems.

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This dynamic mapping is handled by Invista Control Path Cluster modules. These modules, which are Intel CPU-based appliances, sit outside of the data path to maintain the mapping of data volumes to the applications.

Lewis contrasted EMC's Invista to the virtualization technology of rivals such as IBM and Hitachi Data Systems, which put multi-vendor storage pools behind their own arrays. Because Invista relies on intelligence within the SAN switches, the data does not run through a separate array or appliance, and so it does not impact the performance or security of the data. With IBM and Hitachi, a separate array sits between the host and the arrays where the data is stored. "But it's just another array," he said.

When Invista is released next quarter, it will be initially available bundled with all necessary software and either a Brocade or Cisco switch. List price will be $225,000. Such a configuration will handle a minimum of 64 Tbytes of storage, Lewis said. A bundle with a McData switch is expected early next year.

Going forward, Lewis said EMC expects to add such services as remote replication and continuous data protection to Invista.