EMC ProSphere 1.5 GAed recently – and I’ve been playing with it. It’s really cool!
The first thing to understand about EMC ProSphere is, in my opinion – that it’s not Control Center. Control Center is the Storage Resource Management tool in use in many, many large scale environments, and in my experience – I’ve never had a customer say they love it. In Pat Gelsinger-land here at EMC – that’s the only acceptable bar :-)
Some customers use Control Center. Most complain about agents in deployment, scaling, and negative upgrade experiences. Once up and running, they get value – but it can be painful to get there.
I think of ProSphere as the “Steve Austin” of the Storage Resource Management world – it’s been built from the ground up to be better, stronger, faster… and simpler, agent-less, scalable, federated – and so on. The only difference from Steve Austin (the “$6M dollar man” BTW from the non americas audience :-) is that it isn’t based on the damaged body of it’s predecessor, and it doesn’t cost $6M :-)
The core design principles as the engineering team set out to make this “Storage Resource Management done right” capability were:
- Make it simple – and really easy to install, and get to customer benefits quickly.
- Make it scale and perform like a mofo.
- Make it easy to integrate with – everything exposed via APIs – and integrate with all other EMC stuff
- Use standard APIs to extend platform support.
They wanted to get the core architecture right and to get lots of customer feedback before adding features, or broadening support.
To learn more, see a demo, and learn how to get it to play with, learn, and give us feedback – read on!
The ProSphere engineering team was very focused and very pragmatic on how to develop the platform. While they started by nailing the core architecture (rather than exhaustive features/use cases), the goal is to, over time, completely subsume Control Center use cases (in the meantime, there will be continuous Control Center updates for existing customers).
ProSphere v1 had the goal to nail the performance-centric use cases and prove the architectural model (and get loads of customer feedback – which has been very positive). v1.5 was to extend to cover the capacity-management use cases, introduce alerting and reporting – and the first parts of passive snooping on the fabric itself. v2.0 will add a lot more (more on roadmap later).
To give you an idea of what they did:
- To make it simple and easy to deploy – the only way you get it is as a vApp. It uses 75% less hardware than Control Center at the same scale. Upgrading is crazy simple – it can auto-upgrade from the Internet. To get to value quickly, it uses an agent-less design principle. It’s the “anti Control Center” in all of these aspects.
- To make it scale and perform like a mofo – the whole architecture is based on functional elements that are designed around RESTful principles, and the back-end database uses the GreenPlum database. If you want to scale, you can scale database, discovery modules – and if you want to federate between multiple sites, it’s a single click. To understand the scale we’re talking about, imagine: more than 1.2 million volumes, 36,000 SAN ports, and 18,000 hosts – and that’s before you federate across instances. But it’s simple and easy for a customer with a single array too.
- To make it easy to integrate with – all the EMC element managers share the same UI based on FLEX, everything is exposed via APIs, in the roadmap you can expect a ton of integration with EMC Storage Configuration Advisor and the Element Managers (Like Unisphere and SMC). It is fully integrated with the vCenter and ESX APIs right now meaning like all EMC management stuff, you point at vCenter – and go. You can see the power of that in the demo below.
- To use standard APIs to extend platform support – the team is really focused on not trying to be everything to everybody. They integrate with EMC arrays today via SMI-S and that’s their plan to add third party array support.
Check out the video below (thank you Brian Dehn – great job!) to get an idea of how cool ProSphere is…
What can you expect in the near future for ProSphere in version 2.0?
- NAS Support (to me, this is the biggest gap in 1.x)
- Host capacity utilization (there is great capacity reporting in 1.5 – but from the array(s) standpoint)
- Broadened & consolidated alerting & policies (1.5 has this, but early capabilities)
- Performance Dashboards (1.5 has awesome performance info as you can see in the demo, but no performance dashboard like you see for capacity)
- Agentless improvements (1.5 introduced the first passive fabric-based construction of topology details – we think we can do a lot more in 2.0)
- NPIV & Virtual Fabrics
- Broadened array/target platform support.
EMC ProSphere is available at no cost to existing Control Center customers – and I would highly encourage them to check it out.
What if you’re NOT a Control Center customer – but want to give it a shot? Or if you’re an EMC Partner?
I’ve been pushing the product team and I’m VERY happy to say that they share my enthusiasm and confidence in their baby – they’ve decided to make the Virtual Appliance available for download to the world in the same way we have access to it within EMC. This is the same thing as the real deal. It’s not supported in production, and the support will be provided on a best-effort SLA via the public EMC Community Network. Expect to see another post soon with more details on how to get it soon.
BTW – customers – use your voice! Do you like it when we do make our products available to play/learn openly as virtual appliances? Does it make you more likely to consider? To acquire? Do you cheat the system and risk putting them in production environments?
I’m pushing ALL the EMC product teams hard on this topic internally. I think the one who AREN’T doing this (you know who you are!) are on the losing side of the debate – more and more they are coming over to this way of thinking. I also think and have experience that customers understand what “no supported in production” translates to. Ultimately though – it’s YOUR opinion and actions that matter far far more than mine – please comment!
I’m doing a webcast next week on this broad topic (ProSphere architecture, capability, roadmap, HOWTO play) – it’s on March 29th, 8am PT/11am ET. Register by clicking on the link below!
I think EMC ProSphere is really cool – but more than anything what I want – from customers, partners, EMCers – is feedback! Are we on the right track? What do you like/not like about ProSphere? Do you like the fact that we’re putting it out there to play, learn and give feedback?