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EMC: ViPR Now Available For Permanent Evaluation

EMC: ViPR Now Available For Permanent Evaluation

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In an interesting move, EMC has made ViPR available for download and evaluation with no restrictions other than mandating it for non-production use.  Releasing NFR (Not For Resale) copies of software is no new thing; VEEAM have done it for years as have many other companies looking to get their software out there in people’s hands for testing and of course for spreading the word.  However to my knowledge this is the first EMC mainstream product I know of that has been released in this fashion, excluding demo versions and emulators.

Now there are two ways to look at this; either EMC have realised that they need to connect with the wider community and want to use that process to gain wider acceptance for their more”challenging” product sales.  On the other hand, the cynical view says that ViPR hasn’t a hope of widespread adoption and EMC are desperate to do anything that raises the product’s profile.  I’d like to think that there’s a more likely middle ground being struck here.

The Legacy of SRM

The past is littered with failed attempts at creating “one tool to manage them all” pieces of software to centralise the provisioning process.  There have been some valiant attempts, including CreekPath Systems (acquired in 2006) who at least had a sensible architecture that allowed vendor-specific management modules to be developed and implemented into their framework.  One of the reasons for the failure of that product was the inability to alter the underlying provisioning mechanism of the target array.  No matter how you package it up, you’re still using the configuration process under the covers and for platforms like DMX at the time that meant symconfigure.  CreekPath’s software just didn’t deal with the provisioning process intelligently, didn’t seem to understand multi-user management environments and fell foul of feature bloat, adding features that their biggest customers requested, just to keep them on board.  We also have had many, many years of development of SMI-S, which still really doesn’t offer the depth of management required to understand and configure arrays successfully, despite what seems like vast amounts of time and effort in development.


Part of the problem here is ownership.  Storage vendor X and vendor Y are competing against each other (choose your own names here).  Why would they want to share details of their arrays and APIs?  They may choose to share with a 3rd party – they definitely won’t share with a competitor.  And so we’ve ended up with half-baked standards that go nowhere towards meeting the requirements customers need.  Few vendors have implemented clear and transparent APIs to manage their platforms as a part of the design, SolidFire being one of the notable exceptions.

The SRM Conundrum

So this is the situation EMC find themselves in with ViPR.  The software supports EMC platforms and NetApp (who have generously made their API open and available outside of any ViPR relationship), but other platforms require SMI-S.  How can EMC convince other vendors to work with them and add support to ViPR?

One way is to make the software more freely available, so the wider community grow to use and love it, then start requesting other vendors support the platform.  This is probably what EMC are looking to do.  A more altruistic view would be to see a scenario in which having a more open and freely available ViPR could benefit the IT community and EMC themselves.  EMC could simply open-source the whole project.

The Architect’s View

EMC should be applauded for being more open with their software products as it lets end users try them out and get comfortable before buying (I for one will be doing a more objective analysis now the software and documentation is freely available).  Prospective administrators can gain skills and consultants can evaluate them as part of designs and strategies.  The tough part for EMC will be convincing the wider vendor storage community that a single management portal is a good thing for everyone.  However therein lies the problem; people out there have long memories and looking at EMC’s track record and history, I doubt whether the likes of HP, Dell and Hitachi are likely to get on board anytime soon.

Note: details on downloading ViPR and documentation can be found here – https://www.emc.com/getvipr

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Copyright (c) 2009-2014 – Chris M Evans, first published on http://blog.architecting.it, do not reproduce without permission.


About Chris M Evans

Chris M Evans has worked in the technology industry since 1987, starting as a systems programmer on the IBM mainframe platform, while retaining an interest in storage. After working abroad, he co-founded an Internet-based music distribution company during the .com era, returning to consultancy in the new millennium. In 2009 Chris co-founded Langton Blue Ltd (www.langtonblue.com), a boutique consultancy firm focused on delivering business benefit through efficient technology deployments. Chris writes a popular blog at http://blog.architecting.it, attends many conferences and invitation-only events and can be found providing regular industry contributions through Twitter (@chrismevans) and other social media outlets.
  • Storagezilla

    Speaking for myself.

    I’d expect HP, Dell and Hitachi won’t get on board and that’s fine. Don’t get me wrong, they’d be very welcome to but I don’t see it happening. Industry developed standards are a race to the lowest common denominator, provide limited function and more than a few things the storage industry has standardised around haven’t proved of any use.

    Successful ‘standards’ come from dominant positions. No one at Sun or Microsoft spent any time trying to get all their competitors to standardise on NFS or SMB. It just happened. Same with S3 compatibility, etc, etc.

    EMC has no open source DNA on the infrastructure side (Not so with Pivotal and VMware) and is very clear on that point, ‘no charge’ product(s) will have to be enough. From personal experience attempts to open source useful technologies always run afoul of Business & Legal.

    That’s very annoying for anyone who sees the value in open source development and collaboration but the message is clear and the company doesn’t pretend it’s a hip open source contributor when it’s not.

    That doesn’t mean those of us on the inside won’t keep pushing for change and might score a win here and there but don’t expect any major products to be relicensed to FOSS and launched into orbit for anyone who wants to add to it or take from it.

    • http://thestoragearchitect.com/ Chris M Evans

      Mark, thanks for the comments. I guess in some respects, with such a large portfolio of (disparate) technologies, ViPR is a good solution and of course could be an even better solution when/if EMC decided to become less hardware and more software focused…

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