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Atmos virtualises non-EMC storage

3PAR? NetApp? HDS? Oh yes

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EMC can now virtualise its competitors' arrays courtesy of an Atmos front end running as a virtual machine.

Atmos is EMC's cloud storage array, designed to combine nodes in massively scalable storage pools that can be worldwide in scope and present data locally. At EMC World in May the company announced Atmos Virtual Edition (AVE). This is the Atmos software running as a virtual machine under VMware's ESX hypervisor.

EMC said this extends Atmos' "ability to deliver web-accessible, elastic cloud storage qualities to customers using EMC Symmetrix enterprise storage and EMC Celerra unified storage platforms.

"Running in a virtual environment, Symmetrix and Celerra customers can extend their platforms to address new workloads such as content-rich web applications, storage-as-a-service, cloud archiving and access to external Atmos-powered cloud services.

"Now Atmos is tightly integrated with EMC Celerra unified storage for fully automated storage tiering (FAST) of data."

The Symm and Celerra customers get their platform use extended to Atmos, but look at it the other way round - AVE uses either Symmetrix or Celerra as its backend storage and presents it to its users as Atmos storage, it is effectively virtualising the Symm and Celerra arrays.

Our information is that AVE can actually use any VMware-certified storage array as a backend and so do the same thing as IBM's SAN Volume Controller (SVC), Hitachi Data System's USP-V and NetApp's V Series - that is virtualise third-party arrays and present them to users as Atmos storage.

That means 3PAR, HDS, HP, IBM, NetApp and other suppliers' arrays could be virtualised behind AVE and brought into the Atmos fold, with VMware providing the linkage between AVE and the third-party array.

Any NAS (network-attached storage) or Fibre Channel storage supported with VMware will work. HP already has the LeftHand Virtual SAN appliance and this storage-controller-as-VM concept does prompt the question of VMware becoming the array controller with the storage software running on top of it as a layered application?

Our information is that EMC has already sold AVE to customers and some are running it in production. Although the product is out in the field there is a near-complete lack of marketing material about it - no data sheet and brochure-type information - on EMC's website.

There is a thought that this AVE development is yet another Gelsinger galvanisation, as he's taken over the Atmos group and merged it with the rest of storage development. The impression is that it's almost like engineers tossing the product over the wall before a marketing plan has been written and agreed.

It appears AVE will be marketed after its deliverables have been signed off with the other teams in Gelsinger's group, which will probably happen later this quarter.

EMC has been asked to confirm this third party array virtualising by AVE, and says: "Yes: any VMware-certified Fibre Channel or NAS storage can act as a backend." ®

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