Partners: Despite Positioning, EMC's libStorage Won't Conflict With VMware Container Strategy

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With its new open-source libStorage storage orchestration for containers, EMC is making an effort to solve one of the nagging challenges facing the burgeoning market for Linux containers.

The libStorage solution may also be a move to solidify EMC's relevance in a market where VMware's presence may be in danger of eroding, according to Geoff Woollacott, senior analyst at TBR Inc.

While solution providers say there isn't obvious friction between EMC libStorage and VMware's container strategy, EMC is certainly covering its bases in order to capitalize on the growing container market regardless of whether VMware's more mature container strategy finds success, Woollacott says.

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"VMware gets to compete on their own merits," Woollacott said. "If they win, EMC has solutions. If VMware doesn't win, EMC has solutions."

Josh Bernstein, vice president of technical strategies in EMC's emerging technologies division, argued that libStorage and VMware are more complementary than competitive.

"I don't think it's competitive," Bernstein said. "I think it's an enhancement. VMware has a fairly mature container platform on its own. We hope VMware and their container platform will adopt libStorage in the same way others will. With [EMC's] relationship with VMware, we can move faster with them than with other companies."

Still, VMware's ability to compete in the small-but-growing container market is being called into question. For example, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman recently took a jab at longtime partner VMware, suggesting the rise of containers would eventually make the virtualization software vendor irrelevant.

VMware's container strategy, including its year-old Project Photon and Project Lightwave, involves running containers inside virtual machines while providing developers with open-source tools to build cloud-native apps.

However, containers don't need the underlying operating systems required by virtual machines, and can run more apps per server than virtual machines. Container technology is gaining attention in the cloud-focused market because it allows developers to create apps and move them from testing to production regardless of infrastructure, and without changing their code.

EMC libStorage is trying to solve one of the key problems with container technology -- namely, that each container platform with its accompanying microservices is unique, meaning several container platforms can run in a given environment, each with its own language, forcing users to work in strict silos. The libStorage solution establishes a single storage language and a single method of support for all container platforms.

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