EMC Preps Software-Defined VNX Array, Ships New VNXe Entry Array

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EMC Wednesday unveiled Project Liberty, a plan to turn its VNX midrange storage array into a virtual array that could run in a cloud or potentially on commodity server hardware.

The storage giant also updated its VNXe entry-level storage array with better-performing hardware and storage along with several enterprise storage capabilities found in its higher-priced arrays. EMC also said data at rest in its VNX2 array series in the future will be encrypted.

The news comes in advance of the annual EMC World conference scheduled to begin this Monday in Las Vegas.

[Related: Is Software-Defined Storage For Real Or A Lot Of Hot Air?]

Project Liberty, which the company said will result in a software-defined VNX array, is part of a new breed of software-defined storage that gives customers increased agility and freedom in hybrid cloud environments, said Jon Siegal, senior director of product marketing at EMC, Hopkinton, Mass.

"It leverages the functions of VNX but lets it be deployed on a virtual server, in a remote site, and in the cloud," Siegal said.

Project Liberty also could be used to create virtual arrays directly on commodity servers, although there are no concrete plans to do so at this time, he said.

The idea of a software-defined VNX array fits with EMC's plans to be a leader in the software-defined storage market. EMC, along with VMware, the virtualization heavyweight that is mainly owned by EMC, are working on technologies to develop software-defined data centers that could one day see server, storage and networking functionality all defined by storage regardless of from where the underlying hardware is sourced.

A software-defined VNX array could be used for test and development, letting customers quickly spin up a virtual array to test new application functionality and then move the workload to a hardware VNX when ready, he said.

No timeline or pricing is available for Project Liberty, Siegal said. It is, however, slated to be available in the next year or two, he added.

While Project Liberty seems to be an interesting new direction for EMC, the big question is who will want to take advantage of it, said Keith Norbie, director of server, virtualization and storage for the Eastern U.S. at Technology Integration Group (TIG), a San Diego-based solution provider and EMC partner.

"VMware has hinted that its VSA [Virtual Storage Appliance] has not sold well," Norbie said. "The market has been a tough sell for storage software-based appliances."

NEXT: Finding The Right Environment For Project Liberty

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