Q&A: EMC's Brian Gallagher touts the new VPLEX appliance

EMC plans to move VPLEX's synchronous replication to all of its products

Brian Gallagher, president of EMC's Symmetrix & Virtualization Product Group, sat down with Computerworld at EMC's annual user conference, EMC World, to talk about the company's new VPLEX synchronous data replication product. Gallagher explained what differentiates it from rival products and EMC's existing offerings, such as Symmetric Remote Data Facility [SRDF] replication technology and Invista storage virtualization software.

Excerpts from that interview follow:

So what's the difference between VPLEX and your existing replication and storage virtualization products such as SRDF and Invista? VPLEX and its ability to do distributed cache coherence over distance literally creates a new category. It is completely differentiated, as we look at active data over distance. No other technology can do that, whether it's Invista, SRDF or competitive technology. If you look at data centers today, they're traditionally active-passive until something happens. Then the remote data center can become active, allowing you to access data. What VPLEX does is it creates active-active data over distance and it manages the coherency of the access to that information.

What do you mean by active-active? Is that just another way of saying synchronous replication? In this case, yes. I'm talking about synchronous for the VPLEX Metro [two or more VPLEX appliances clustered over distances of up to 60 miles]. There are still things the architecture can do, such as active-active multi-sync. However, when you look at these other use cases, there are other things you have to worry about, like when you have multi-writes over distance. How do you keep [those writes] from tripping on each other? Our architecture supports that. As we move forward, we'll be rolling out the VPLEX Geo and Global versions of it where we'll target specific use cases for this.

Invista was designed to do zero-latency storage virtualization to third-party storage providing for high-speed data mobility within a data center. Why we brought [VPLEX] to market was really to do virtual storage over distance. And that required an architecture to do cache coherence.

What we will be doing with this access-anywhere technology in VPLEX is just like what we did with our FAST [Fully Automated Storage Tiering ]. We had a concept and then we proliferated that across our storage products.

Does that mean you'll be replacing SRDF and Invista with VPLEX? No. I think what you'll see is we'll be better leveraged with technologies like SRDF. For example, today we can create a VPLEX environment that does active-active [volume] synchronously and a volume being replicated off the back of a Symmetrix with SRDF asynchronous replication. Again, VPLEX is not just about Symmetrix, this is about anyone's storage products.

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