EMC revealed it would move into software-defined storage with ViPR last May, and ViPR 1.0 became generally available in Sept. 2013.
According to EMC's vision, ViPR will separate the storage control plane from the data plane to simplify management and see heterogeneous arrays as one storage pool.
EMC promised to eventually support all competitors' storage arrays with ViPR, as well as commodity hardware. The 1.0 release last November included support for EMC VNX, VMAX and Isilon, along with NetApp arrays. It also supported EMC's RecoverPoint replication software and object storage services through application programming interfaces from Amazon S3, EMC Atmos and OpenStack Swift.
Version 1.1 can plug into EMC Storage Resource Management (SRM) and allows customers to deploy a Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) across any files under ViPR management. EMC ViPR 1.1 also supports the Symmetrix Remote Data Facility remote replication application used with VMAX arrays.
"We see ViPR as a platform," said Chris Ratcliffe, vice president of marketing for EMC's Advanced Software Division. "In the first release, we laid the foundation for what we think is a huge amount of automation and sophistication that is to come."
SRM can be managed through ViPR, and the new versions of the products have an identical interface. SRM provides resource utilization and capacity planning, change management, and performance analysis and reporting.
Ratcliffe said EMC beefed up SRM's overall reporting and added dashboards with the new release. SRM installs as a virtual application.
According to Ratcliffe, the integration with ViPR allows customers to drill down into SRM's reports through ViPR. It also extends SRM's capabilities to non-EMC arrays supported by ViPR.
An HDFS data service was added as part of ViPR's object storage support. HDFS support in ViPR lets companies deploy HDFS across files from any ViPR-supported platforms.
Organizations running Hadoop on enterprise storage can provision Hadoop and run analytics on the data there without having to extract the data to a separate HDFS cluster.
"One issue with Hadoop is [that] you have to bring your data to where the analytics occur," Ratcliffe said. "You take your databases, bring that data to the Hadoop cluster, it gets ingested into HDFS and you run analytics on it. Now we can roll an HDFS file system over your existing data in place. We can apply HDFS to the underlying array and allow you to run analytics from any standard Hadoop stack."
ViPR has a long way to go to fulfill EMC's vision for the software. The company still has a lot of storage services to add, and NetApp is the only competitor whose arrays are supported -- although Ratcliffe said Hitachi Data Systems support is coming soon.
"I'm looking for the killer app for ViPR to come out," said Mike Matchett, a senior analyst and consultant at Hopkinton, Mass.-based Taneja Group Inc. "That might come when they get data protection services on top of EMC's ViPR to create wall-to-wall data protection. That's what I'm looking forward to."
The company is working on integrating data protection into EMC ViPR, but probably won't complete that before late 2014.
Matchett said the additions in ViPR 1.1 make sense, even if they don't provide as much value as adding data protection services.
"I can see what they're thinking with SRM; it's a way to simplify these larger environments," he said. "Coming up with an SRM suite that collapses products down and makes it a single pane of glass is great, but they need to make the storage all look more homogenous from an administrative perspective."
He said HDFS support was easy to add because ViPR already had object storage support, but the value is limited to the large organizations that run Hadoop in their data centers. "EMC [is] saying, 'Leave your data in place and we'll give you HDFS access to that data while it sits in enterprise storage,'" Matchett said.
Wayne Pauley, a senior analyst at Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Strategy Group, said SRM integration with ViPR is a good step for EMC, which has been criticized by customers for having too many management tools across its arrays.
"Simplifying that product set will make it much easier for IT folks to manage their resources," he said. "The feedback we've heard from [ViPR] customers is [that] it gives them one management pane of glass for all their EMC resources on the floor. And as they expand ViPR, it will give them one pane of glass for their heterogeneous storage. Instead of dealing with separate element managers, they can manage all their resources on the floor from one place."
With the 1.1 release, EMC is making ViPR available as a free download from its website for non-production data. For production data, ViPR is priced based on capacity under management, with the price per gigabyte per month going down as capacity grows.