EMC CTO considering hybrid storage appliances

EMC CTO Jeffrey Nick sees great potential in storage appliances that blend tasks. He wants better virtualisation too, as we find in this special interview!

EMC's Chief Technology Officer, Jeffrey M. Nick, says the company is considering a new wave of storage appliances to combine different storage functions in a single machine.

"Appliances in general is a great opportunity for EMC," he told Searchstorage.com.au in an interview on Thursday Australian time.

"We have a vibrant appliance tech initiative at EMC and are looking at how to deploy different functionality through appliances."

"We have lots of opportunities to leverage appliances ... to augment traditional large scale storage technologies. Appliances allow new combinatorial forms that add value [by combining applications] like backup and archive, or backup and archive and media servers."

"Lots of new forms are deliverable as appliances. We are very, very keen on this at EMC and we see it as a big opportunity."

Nick said the company's researchers are also hard at work on virtualisation.

"There is clearly a gap between what customers want from storage virtualisation and the current state of the technology," he said. "Here in the Chief Technology Officer's office we are working to close that gap.

Flash memory is also in Nick's thoughts.

"Flash technology is going to find its place as another tier in the storage hierarchy, given its characteristics of price/performance, improvements in latency and manufacturing scale driving down prices. Research will address some of the issues given number of writes to the media and the time will come when it becomes an acceptable commercial scale technology as a tier of enterprise storage, but not a replacement for disk."

Storage management software is also in Nick's sights, as he believes current management tools lack the automated policy features that make it easy for businesses to adopt information lifecycle management. Automation, he added, is important given the ever-increasing amount of data being created and can therefore ease storage administration burdens if it becomes more sophisticated.

Another technology he hopes will become simpler is tools that allow interoperability between different types of storage networks.

"Today there is a compromise between IP access and management of that access," he said. "The industry is calling out for some reconciliation and that's why you efforts around fibre channel over Ethernet."

"We are very much involved to ensure freedom of protocol and also right degrees of management."

"WAN-based access and transparent data migrations are still very much desired by customers," he added. "Storage technologies need to catch up to customer demands for this capability."

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