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ViPR or Vapor: The Software-Defined Storage saga continues


By Kate Davis, @KateAtHP, WW Product Marketing Manager, HP StoreVirtual Storage


ViPR or Vapor: The Software-Defined Storage saga continues




The topic of Software-Defined Storage (SDS) got hotter this week with vendor announcements and claims of “World’s First SDS” product. World’s first, really? In order to claim anything a product must be code complete, known to work and at the very least have a  known GA date. I think all the other vendors out there will agree that software-based storage products have actually been shipping for many years and most of those fit into the new category of Software-Defined Storage. But I have a question. Does this new product actually fit the mold of software-defined storage?


Software-defined storage or software-managed storage?
I’m talking about EMC’s ViPR product and what doesn’t appear to be a storage product but actually a storage orchestration and management tool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve read and the demo videos I’ve watched this is a software product that needs a fully functioning storage product already in the data center. It’s touting of virtual storage arrays are nothing but a grouping of physical arrays to create a shared storage resource for a service catalog. Does it follow the VMware standard of Abstract, Pool and Automate…it seems so, but what else does it do? If you have orchestration software that connects to in-place storage hardware doesn’t that make it software-managed storage?

What I’m more interested in are the benefits that a software-defined architecture brings to customers. My last blog included the question: Is VSA the future of software-defined storage? This caused some controversy….well, good. We need people’s opinions on the topic. I’ve talked about how HP defines SDS and why now it’s time to shine but the next question to be answered is: Why should customers look at their infrastructure differently?

Software-defined storage more than management

HP believes that to create software-defined storage, the software being used contains all the data services to create storage on any server or storage platform of your choosing. The flexibility of SDS allows you to consolidate your storage VMs into the same servers that hold your application VMs. Along with the benefits of a fully fault-tolerant server and storage environment, you gain opportunities for substantial costs savings and increased mobility of your storage.

What does the customer gain? Here’s what using our StoreVirtual VSA software does:

VSA_Savings.jpgBy removing physical storage arrays from the picture, you can add drive capacity to your servers, along with HP VSA software. This shift in your approach to storage can help you reduce your upfront investment in new technologies by up to 80%. It allows you to utilize servers and storage that’s already in your infrastructure and may be underutilized.

Converging server and storage technology into the same system cuts your physical footprint for each solution in half. Not having to buy a new storage system not only saves you rack space but also time and capital investment.

You can gain back 60% savings in energy costs by taking advantage of the efficiency of VSAs in servers instead have having both servers and storage arrays. No extra system to power and cool really saves in the long run, especially if you have several remote or branch offices.

HP StoreVirtual VSA or ViPR?

Does VSA compete head-to-head with ViPR? No, it doesn’t. We have management and orchestration already in the product - plus a lot more. In addition to “Abstract, Pool and Automate”, StoreVirtual, at its core, is scale-out clustered storage. Within the VSA, the centralized management console automates and controls any physical or virtual node on the network in any location. As for external orchestration, the HP StoreVirtual VSA has had OpenStack support for a couple of years now with recently announced enhancements for the latest Grizzly release.  HP believes customers should have flexible options for storage deployment and management and will continue to drive support for open initiatives such as this.

When I look at SDS, I see the opportunities it brings to our customers. The flexibility to create an infrastructure that suits their workloads today and adapt to changes in the future, not only in the applications or the hypervisor but also in the hardware it runs on. Creating an architecture that takes advantage of software-defined storage should give the customer the ability to change their mind in the future without losing access to their data. Upgrade hardware, switch hypervisors, introduce new APIs and the data will always be there, online and ready to go.

Does ViPR do this for the customer? I think not.


Discover_teaser_image.jpgInterested in hearing more on software-defined storage, flash and other hot 2013 storage trends? Join us on June 11th at 8:30 AM Pacific LIVE from HP Discover in Las Vegas to learn how HP Converged Storage is transforming the industry.


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Good stuff Kate! 


I'd also recommend taking a look at a couple of blog posts I've seen:

  • ViPR - Frankenstorage Revisited by Chris Evans (@chrismevans) - Chris reminds us of a few things EMC execs have said in the past and raises some big concerns over ViPR.  
  • Viperidae - not that venomous? by Martin Glassborow (@storagebod) - Martin sees some promise in what has been said so far but also says "There's also an attempt to build a new narrative which coesn't seem to work".

I think customers ought to focus less on individual vendors' SDS definitions but more on the functionality and the benefits. Even the planet's authority on what something really is - Wikipedia - states that  "Characteristics of software-defined storage could include any or all of the following non-complusory features...". 


HP has been very clear on what StoreVirtual VSA is and it's benefits but I can't wait until we share more about what is coming!

Some good points made here.  I don't have the answers either, but these are certainly questions worth asking and at least thinking about.


It's got to be a difficult balancing act from a marketing perspective to pitch something like the VSA as lowering costs at the same time as other more appliance based solutions whether it is Lefthand or 3PAR (or MSA I suppose).


I would be curious to see a more in depth analysis on the various products and where they are best suited(I believe I know from a technical standpoint but HP hasn't communicated it well in these posts). The above post(and past post(s)) implies (I believe incorrectly -- though not intentionally) that an organization can go full VSA for their next storage refresh -- at any level of scale. Whether they have a low end MSA, or perhaps a high end P10808.


For me as a technical user it's not a big deal but I think the blog post may be targeting less technical management types, and one thing that has caused me many sleepless nights at past companies is working with management who think they know what they are doing when they really haven't a clue.


is storevirtual in the data path?  Can it support third party arrays?  What if I want to use better orchestration tools?  Will HP integrate with them?  Can I manage file, block, and object with HP?  Can cache purpose a file system and store objects?  How does storevirtual scale?  


@Makeserlet - Yes, VSA can support 3rd party arrays.  We've mentioned this several times here.  Any array that is on the HCL is supported behind VSA.  Also, we've been talking about support for OpenStack.  And StoreVirtual scales very well thank you!  Our best practice is to scale up to 10 nodes.


A question for you - I hear that in order to use ViPR, customers will have to purchase EMC VPLEX.  


To leverage the capabilities of StoreVirtual VSA, customers only need StoreVirtual VSA and any server trapped disks.


Bottom line - as Kate stated, ViPR appears to be software-managed storage. 


@Nate - there's always some overlap with products but I think where StoreVirtual VSA would be recommeded is a few places:

  1. Transform trapped server storage into shared storage with VMware or Hyper-V
  2. Start small with StoreVirtual VSA and know you can grow into a StoreVirtual physical appliance.
  3. Another suggested use case is VSA with SSDs in a ProLiant server to create a high performance tier. 

That said, I think you're right - we do need so better technical positioning of the portfolio.  And while StoreVirtual has it's place, it's certainly not a replacement for hardware based arrays like the StoreVirtual 4000, MSA, or HP 3PAR StoreServ.  I'll work with the team to see if I can get some better technical positioning.

What about using a StoreVirtual VSA to front end legacy storage. That way you could use physical Storevirtual appliances for production data and the VSA to front end legacy storage acting as a DR target.


Basically you could make anyone's storage look like and feel like a Storevirtual physical appliance with all the features. Just like all those traditional virtulization products, but at a fraction of the cost.


Hi John,


Thanks for the comment. You're right on!


StoreVirtual VSA supports both DAS and SAN storage. You can absolutely front end legacy hardware. It's a great cost saver. For added flexibility, you have the choice of using all of the legacy storage or just a portion that's not currently being used.


I'll have more on use cases in my next post.



Reselling Cleversafe + Scality does not equal ViPR Object.  When will HP come up with its own Object service?  Or, at least which side of HP cares now?  Enterprise or Consumer?  

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