EMC's Project Liberty could free storage software from hardware

The company will demonstrate the emerging technology at EMC World next week

EMC will give users a peek at its progress toward software-defined storage next week at EMC World in Las Vegas, demonstrating a virtualized VNX array developed under a program called Project Liberty.

The demonstration will show software from the company's VNX hybrid array running separately from the array itself, pointing toward the ability to deploy EMC storage smarts on less specialized hardware. EMC hasn't given many details about Project Liberty, which will be showcased in a section of the show called Area 52, but it said it's going through evaluations with customers for various use cases.

"It's not a product, it's a project," said Jonathan Seigal, senior director of product marketing at EMC.

EMC is announcing Project Liberty on Wednesday in advance of EMC World, along with an entry-level version of its VNXe platform for midsized customers and new encryption technology for the VNX line. VNX is a series of hybrid flash and hard-drive arrays for enterprises.

Storage, like networking, is becoming more software-centered as enterprises look to standardized hardware and cloud services to power their data-center operations. The Project Liberty stack could run on commodity hardware, in a cloud or at a remote site, Seigal said. "It's really about giving our customers more options," he said. An initial use of Project Liberty might be to spin up virtualized instances of the VNX software on a platform separate from an array, for purposes such as testing and development, Seigal said.

The dominant enterprise storage vendor is hitching its future to software because it doesn't get as much advantage from maintaining several different hardware lines anymore, IDC analyst Ashish Nadkarni said. Ultimately, EMC is heading toward selling different software that can all run on the same standard hardware, including systems from other vendors, he believes. Yet it will probably take five years to reach that point, partly because the company still relies on hardware sales for much of its revenue, he said.

Project Liberty could help EMC to head off startups that sell virtualized gateways between storage systems on premises and cloud services off site, Gartner analyst Gene Ruth said. They include Panzura, Avere and Ctera Networks, Ruth said. A virtualized VNX stack could give enterprises a way to replicate a physical VNX array on site with a virtual one in a public cloud, giving enterprises more flexibility.

Brandon Robinson, network services director at ACES, a power management company, is looking at software-defined storage for potential use in a few years. A platform such as VMware's VSAN, or possibly the Project Liberty technology, wouldn't replace a whole hardware array but might be good for spot deployments of applications such as virtual desktops, he said.

"We wouldn't have to go out and buy a whole other array just to support this new workload," Robinson said. "We might be able to deploy the software and some off-the-shelf servers and hard drives."

Also on Wednesday, EMC is updating its VNXe line with the VNXe3200, designed for midsize enterprises and branch sites. It gets improvements that were introduced last year for the larger VNX platform. Those include new software to get more performance out of multicore Intel processors, the addition of Fibre Channel to the existing iSCSI and NAS (network-attached storage) protocols, and unified snapshot software that spans both block and file storage. The update delivers higher performance in the same footprint, including three times as many virtual machines, virtual desktops, Microsoft SQL transactions or Exchange mailboxes, Seigal said.

The VNXe3200 is still simpler to manage than the higher VNX line, with an eye toward sites with little storage expertise, Seigal said. It includes wizard-based SAN (storage-area network) and NAS setup that takes less than 15 minutes, he said.

The VNXe3200 will ship in the second quarter with prices starting under US$12,000.

EMC is also bringing its DARE (Data-At-Rest-Encryption) to the VNX line from the higher-end VMax series of arrays. This controller-based software can encrypt all the drives in an array, including both solid-state disks and spinning hard drives, at the drive level. Encryption at the drive level keeps the drive secure in case it's lost or stolen, Seigal said. DARE will be available as a software upgrade in the third quarter.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags cloud computinginternetstorageemcvirtualization

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?