It’s Here: The Mid-Range Enterprise Storage Tsunami

tsunamiI went to the virtual races with Lotus Renault in Milan in early September to partake in EMC’s global mid-range storage tech announcements — and you just have to give EMC an ‘A’ for effort: making storage racks look sexy really requires determination and deep marketing pockets. The event was located in a hangar size television studio, which the upward of 500 participants entered through an umbilical cord tunnel embellished with race track motifs, accompanied by the roar of high octane racing cars — one of which was parked in black and gold Lotus colors to greet the guests as they emerged from the tunnel.

This was an all-day, worldwide event going out to some twenty EMC event sites in Asia, the US and several other locations in Europe. In the center of the studio was a news desk where a TV host duo was continuously interviewing launch luminaries. The news desk fronted the stage and product presentation area, which was flanked by multiple 6 foot cabinets hidden under satin drapes, waiting to be unwrapped.

David Goulden, EMC president and COO presently took the stage and launched into the story of EMC and the four major trends: mobile, cloud, big data, and social media. Together, these trends were driving WAN data volumes along an exponential growth curve. It took EMC 20 years to sell one exabyte  (that’s 1 with 18 zeroes) of data storage. The following year in 2010, EMC sold one exabyte in a single year, and earlier this year the company sold one exabyte of storage in a single month. And it’s not because the boxes have gotten bigger. Memory’s physical size is shrinking, just as the systems capacity to store and retrieve blocks, files and objects continues to speed up, and flash storage keep the latency issues at bay.

So, in a roundabout way, our capacity to store and retrieve data is expanding to keep pace with our growing need to generate data that needs storage. Correspondingly, the physical footprint of our storage facilities remains the same, and what we pay for our enhanced storage capabilities is also pretty stable with the 2013 corporate storage budget delivering 5 times more storage capacity than it did just a year ago.

Data center virtualization and the ascent to private/hybrid/public clouds environments is another innovation growth zone that EMC wants to play in, and the customer hook — apart from storage density and price — is ease-of-use. EMC wants to make private cloud solutions as easy and flexible as public cloud offerings. This is at the heart of the Nile project — an elastic cloud storage device for private clouds and on-line SPs. It provides business users with a simple interface to their corporate cloud ‘store’ and lets them pay by the drink. They can select block, file or object storage type, then set performance parameters and capacity and finally the amount of elastic block storage required. In the mid-range VNX environment the monthly price for 500GB of storage is typically $25. Nile solutions will be on the market in early 2014.

An interesting omission from all the goodies announced in the mid-range storage market where EMC reigns supreme is built-in anti-virus solutions. This is an often-requested feature, which EMC with its RSA security subsidiary should be eminently well positioned to deliver. Given the multiple entry points into corporate networks, the multitude of employee BOYD devices, and the value that stored data represents, security needs to reside on the platforms as well as in the applications. Need another box with that order, sir?

Image credit: servantofchaos (flickr) – CC-BY-SA