Among the myriad announcements coming from EMC World 2014, perhaps the most intriguing was EMC's intent to provide a range of Hadoop Distributed File System offerings for the data center and enterprise, according to one analyst.
Mike Matchett, a senior analyst at Taneja Group, said EMC's ViPR 2.0 and Elastic Cloud Storage announcements, as well as its acquisition of startup chipmaker DSSD, make its Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) plans apparent.
"EMC, unlike other storage vendors, has put up a roadmap of at least three different types of HDFS storage they plan to deliver for different sweet spots," Matchett said.
"What they have today -- ViPR HDFS storage and Isilon HDFS storage -- hits [the] data center scale in the midrange. They announced with the DSSD purchase a high-performance sweet spot that will be rack scale, so it will be for smaller databases, but higher performance workloads," he explained. "And there's the Elastic Cloud Storage array, an appliance they will sell similar to what they sold with Atmos appliances to hit cloud-scale economics with object storage that will be suitable to supply certain type[s] of HDFS workloads."
Matchett explained that because HDFS was originally designed to deploy on commodity servers and direct-attached storage, there's no software sale involved.
"Obviously, storage vendors want a piece of that," he said. "Unstructured data is the fastest growing data [that] enterprises are collecting. It makes sense that a storage vendor would want to capitalize on that growing amount of data and get in the game."
The choice then becomes whether to purchase enterprise storage or use commodity storage, but Matchett said there are reasons for going with the former. "You want to buy enterprise storage instead of using commodity storage because it may come with enterprise features [such as] replication and data protection, security and auditing."
Matchett said EMC's DSSD acquisition is "all about rack-scale server flash and intending to bring a lot of flash together on the server side. EMC wants to capitalize on the flash market at large, and a large part of the flash market is actually on the server side. This gives them a foray into getting into that space as well.
"One of the interesting things about server-side flash is that there's a hot trend right now in in-memory databases and in-memory applications and workloads, but that takes a lot of money," he said. "No matter what price memory drops to, flash will probably always be a little cheaper and of course still persistent. So, if you can put together a rack-scale density of flash, you can probably handle a wider spectrum of workloads at that high performance end of the market without the full cost of a total in-memory solution."
Matchett summarized EMC's announcements thusly: "Dave Goulden was pretty clear that while EMC may suffer an overall total drop in revenue because of a drop in hardware sales, by increasing the percentage of business from software, it will increase the overall gross software product margin, [which] may be more important to EMC's long-term viability."