Today, in addition to announcing a new model VNXe, EMC announced their Project Liberty as part of the pre-EMC World build-up.
What’s Project Liberty? EMC is calling it a “virtualized storage software technology based on VNX”.
What does that mean? Project Liberty is essentially a virtual appliance version of EMC’s VNX.
But, wait, I can hear you thinking this one:
Doesn’t EMC already make a VNX virtual appliance available?
Yes. Yes, they do.
So what’s the big deal?
For me, the big deal is two-fold.
It’s for Real
First, the VNX virtual appliance available today, while great for training and testing features and configuration options can’t actually be used to do the main thing people want VNX to do, which is actually serve production storage volumes.
Project Liberty, on the other hand, is a fully-functional software-only version of VNX.
This will offer customers more flexibility and agility. They’ll be able to speed testing and development of not only new applications, but also new infrastructure environments. Customers could also use Project Liberty to provide VNX functionality to remote or branch offices where they might not have been willing (or able) to purchase a hardware VNX.
Hints of Things to Come
The second part of the big deal is mostly speculation on my part, but hear me out.
I believe that Project Liberty — and EMC’s choice of announcement timing — give us hints of EMC’s longer-term plans for movement to software-defined data center (SDDC).
We saw the first hints at last year’s EMC World with the announcement of ViPR, EMC’s framework for software-defined storage services.
We’ve seen additional hints with EMC’s support for the OpenStack initiative and with the release of ScaleIO.
I think Project Liberty is likely to be just the first of more EMC offerings like it in true software-defined storage.
EMC is being very clear and very careful in their language. Liberty is currently a “project”, not a “product”, so no information about planned availability has been provided.
[Disclosure – I am an employee of NetApp, but my thoughts here are my own]
Dave – Your speculation sounds pretty well grounded. The emphasis of the new small VNXe might be somehow paired with the “virtual” VNXe with respect to capabilities. Then using (maybe) some ratio of a little Project Nile and some ScaleIO, you can now offer “web scale” clustering of many VNX appliances (each one being dual controller) in a local hybrid cloud, and the virtual VNX machines can be spun up on a hosted web service for some dimension of elasticity.
Vegas has a betting room for everything – whats the +/- here ?
Your thoughts are an interesting take on ways EMC could look at using/positioning a virtual VNX. At the moment, EMC hasn’t made a lot of details on how Liberty will make the transition from “project” to “product” public, but they’ve been focusing on Liberty a lot during the recent build-up to EMC World. I’m here in Vegas and am hoping that the demo sessions will give us more details. If they make plans public, I’ll post a follow-on.