In a recent event focused on "virtual storage," EMC fearlessly stated that "this changes everything." Thus, the company audaciously claims to "boldly go where no one has gone before." We industry analysts love that type of claim as it stirs up controversy, discussion and the need to write millions of words analyzing and dissecting its meaning, value and validity not only now, but also over the next few years. So, in a thumbnail sketch (relatively speaking) rather than a million words, let's begin to examine what is happening and what it means.
The virtual storage concept was announced by Pat Gelsinger, president of EMC's Information Infrastructure Products Group, to a gathering of industry analysts in person and on the phone. Mr. Gelsinger had a long and illustrious career at Intel (29 1/2 years) and moved to EMC six months ago for the opportunity to get involved in the introduction of disruptive technologies. Enter virtual storage.
Mr. Gelsinger, followed up later by Chuck Hollis, VP of Global Marketing and CTO, reviewed in their blogs some of the key concepts underlying EMC's vision, starting with the private cloud. EMC's view is that the private cloud is the seamless integration of the virtualized data center, the internal cloud created by organizations with large and mid-size data center and external cloud computing resources offered by service providers and others. The key characteristic of a private cloud is that IT is still held accountable for its results, meaning that they have to have control over IT resources and the service delivery that is associated with those resources.
EMC believes that the goal is to create progressively larger and larger pools of resources, enabling better optimization and flexibility. The term "federation" is used to describe that orchestrated pooling of resources, and breaks down into two types: federation of resources (computing, storage and networking) and federation of control (resource allocation, service delivery, security and compliance among them). Federation also aggregates and extends the view of resources across geographies.
In essence, virtual storage is the separation of information from physical storage media and location. It still allows IT control over information no matter where it is in the world, and that means in both internal and external data centers as part of the private cloud. Also, to be clear, virtual storage is not storage virtualization, which is primarily about better managing the storage on one or more arrays in a single data center. Virtual storage is the separation of information (which is logical) from storage (which is physical). That does not mean that information does not have to reside on physical storage, but the application owner and the user does not have to be aware of which piece of physical media that the information resides on.