EMC has opened the kimono on its product roadmap and the future is filled with the HULK, MAMBA, MAIU and HomeStore. This was revealed at an Innovation Day conference at the Museum of Science, Franklin, Massachusetts, on November 14th. EMC execs revealed more detail on the four bare bones described at EMC's October quarterly results meeting.

These products should ship before the fourth quarter of next year.

MAMBA

MAMBA is an acronym for a storage product aimed at small and medium enterprises (SME) and departments. EMC wants to pay more attention to SMEs; which vendor doesn't? Think of it as a Mark II Clariion AX.

HULK

HULK, another acronym, is a clustered network-attached storage (NAS) hardware product providing NAS performance at the Isilon and BlueArc levels. It is intended for Web 2.0 or 'Cloud' applications, according to Tucci, meaning it will be highly scalable in capacity, and performance through multiple controllers. The target applications involve massive amounts of file serving in commercial environments. Internet-based utility computing companies will be a sales target for HULK.

NetApp has its clusterable NAS products based on ONTAP GX, but Isilon and BlueArc have been making clustered NAS sales while NetApp has had a slow start to its high-performance NAS product delivery and selling.

MAUI

The software to operate HULK is called MAUI, a third acronym. It is built on a clustered file system base and provides what EMC called a global repository. Perhaps the Rainfinity global namespace technology will be part of this. It will provide a capacity for handling very large numbers of files spread across multiple NAS boxes (clustered) within a single file namespace

HomeStore

This is a product to be shipped by Intel, or Intel's channel, aimed at the home storage of data and using EMC software, suggesting a kind of consumer NAS box with media-serving capability. It could serve video files to a games console.

Think of a 4TB device using a developed Retrospect code product. It seems to be related to, or identical with, the LifeLine product supplied to Intel. An EMC staffer said HomeStore would be purchasable in Q1 2008 for under $2,000 (about £1,000).

Well, yes, the idea of paying around a £1,000 for a home media file storage box seems ridiculous. Under £500 would be better (about $1,000).

Containerised data services

EMC CEO Joe Tucci said the Symmetrix would, at last, get thin provisioning soon. This will drive up capacity utilisation by spoofing applications with LUNs that their LUN is fully populated with drives when it is not; only having enough drives to meet data writing requirements plus a margin. If more space is needed then the storage admin person gets alerted and more drives can be transparently added to the Sym' array. The term 'containerised data services' has been used in connection with thin provisioning which will be applied to Centera, Celerra and Clariion as well as to the high end Sym' arrays.

Such an approach might be used for cross-array products like replication and snapshots as well.

Archiving

Tucci said EMC was looking at ways to reduce the cost/MB for enterprise storage by using tiering; mixing Fibre Channel and SATA drives in an array for example.

Tucci also said EMC is so disk-centric that it to wants to try and remove tape from data centres, to take it out of the storage equation altogether. He says recoveries (of data) should be at disk speed but not be at high cost.

This seems to indicate that de-duped data on disk arrays will be EMC's preferred archive method. Only then could the cost/MB of archived data on tape be approached with a disk-based archive.

The health market was cited as one particularly needing archival storage.

EMC thinks it needs technology to create archives, technology to ensure compliance with pertinent regulations - meaning classification and retention period control, also e-discovery (meaning meta data creation and search) and a data storage medium and format that guarantees data immutability, meaning WORM (write-once-read-many). Most of the archived data will be either unstructured or semi-structured data so creating content-related meta data could be challenging.

EMC already has a disk-based archive; it's called Centera. Are we looking at some kind of Centera Mark II, one taking advantage of Avamar de-dupe, powered-down MAID architecure and/or disk tiering?

And there's more

EMC has an encryption focus too. It must be easier for data to be encrypted, keys must be securely managed and data decrypted only for authorised people. This is encryption motherhood and apple pie; necessary but not surprising.

In 2008 every EMC drive array product will have a low power operating mode provided by the array software, in which the drives spin more slowly and so draw less power and generate less heat; green slow the drives oh.

This is like HDS' Power Down approach and not a MAID implementation, such as those from Copan and Nexsan, in which drives actually stop. EMC indicated that a tier of storage could be identified as a slow spin tier. There might be constant access SATA as tier 2 with spin-down SATA as a tier 3.

A BII (Business IT Insight) product will relate business $ value to IT assets and will prioritise alerts and failure based on the value of the business activities affected by an IT device's failure.

BCC or Business Continuity Compliance will track recovery points and business continuity processes and test out scenarios if changes do or don't happen.

ViewFS is a new file presentation layer that represents and provides access to a file collection from multiple client devices - think PC to mobile device running various operating systems - using metadata such as tagged content and a sense of the context of an item such as its use in a specific project or association with a particular person or role.

Documentum Media Center facilitates group collaborative working. It classifies media files - video, images, drawings - and presents them in a kind of personalised user interface.

There was a vast smorgasbord of product innovations at this EMC day and a sense that EMC was going to try and regain a driving role in areas of storage where it has been relatively quiescent: clustered NAS; file virtualisation; thin provisioning; power-down, and post-Centera archiving. The next nine months are going to be a pretty active.

One thing that was not mentioned was Invista, EMC's intelligent SAN storage manager running on a SAN fabric switch. This is like the dog that didn't bark. Why not? Well, perhaps because it was a file-focussed day and not a block one. But thin provisioning applies to block storage. So why was there quietness on the Invista front? We'll see.