Redefine EMC Forum – a review


This year’s EMC Forum was under the banner of “Redefine” with four separate streams of

– Redefine Cloud

– Redefine Storage

– Redefine Applications

– Redefine Business

On a personal note it probably was not the best situation that I had returned from a France holiday barely 36 hours earlier; however even if fully alert I think I would have judged this year’s EMC Forum to be one of the weaker ones.

For me the main problem was that EMC really did not have anything new to present. ViPR – EMC’s software defined storage solution – is now at version 2 and has seen incremental improvements; which is only what is to be expected. It is still available as a free download and in that respect can be considered to “redefine” something. XtremIO – EMC’s all-flash array has been very successful thanks to EMC’s market position and its robust design, but it is ultimately still the 1st generation with more enhancements still to come. Vblock as a converged infrastructure has been around for a few years now, but how would it “redefine cloud”?

EMC has also been shopping again and two of their recent purchases – TwinStrata and DSSD – should make an impact. TwinStrata, a storage gateway company, will most likely be incorporated into the next generation of the Symmetrix VMAX arrays and will in this way allow the connectivity to any cloud storage (be it private, public or hybrid).

Not that much is known about DSSD; it sounds like a very fast PCI-e based server extension suited very well for Big Data applications and to run large databases virtually at in-memory speeds. As such it could nicely complement EMC’s flash offerings – from ScaleIO, hybrid arrays, XtremIO to ViPR and its Elastic Cloud Storage.

Reading between the lines EMC is setting itself up for another shift in their business – this time away from big monolithic arrays. Considering that there is now a significant number of startup companies offering easy-to-manage hybrid and all-flash arrays, cloud services are beginning to gain significant traction including cloud storage and even their own VMware provides a software-defined storage solution, they will have to come up with options to protect their market leadership.

In that context the motto for this year’s EMC Forum makes sense – just that the presentations did not live up to the promise. Here is looking forward to EMC Forum 2015, where I expect a host of new services.