You know those scenes in Hollywood films where the laws of science is treated like an optional extras, spaceships going faster than the speed of light, for example ;the sort of thing that some scientists are trying to stop
That's how I felt when I read EMC's recent proposals for its storage federation technology > and the death of distance.Although the company doesn't actually use the term, "death of distance", that's what they're talking about in proposals that are so mind-boggling, it was like I reading a distorted Hollywood version of IT.
EMC president Pat Gelsinger made the proposals in a webinar to analysts (that's not yet on the web) and have been set out in some detail by EMC's Chuck Hollis. It's a long blog but, in a nutshell, EMC is proposing a type of super-storage facility, the aforementioned federation.
Definitely not adheriing to the 'small is beautiful' mindset, the Gelsinger/Hollis proposals centres on the this concept of pooled resources. It's worth quoting at length.
If you think about it, the whole idea is to create progressively larger and larger pools of resources.The bigger the pool, the better optimization, and the easier it is to flex capacity, "Federation" is nothing more than a handy term to describe this sort of orchestrated cooperative pooling.A pooled cluster is better than standalone server and storage.A data-center scale cluster farm is better than a handful of servers and storage. Multiple data centers pooling resources is better than a single one. And being able to pool (and federate) across multiple data centers that can either be owned or rented - while retaining control - is best of all."
What's interesting about this is the article is the way that it just assumes that pooled storage is going to happen - a concept that would have been unthinkable just a year ago.
This is nothing new for EMC - the company has introduced storage federation in its Atmos cloud storage< model, what is new is the tantalising hints about how it doesn't matter where users are geographically located - they're going to get the same experience whether they're in Sydney or London or New York. It's this claim that seems to belong to science fiction.
Again, it's worth noting what Hollis actually says. "We are all well aware of the issues around latency, bandwidth and consistency -- and we architect our solutions around these traditional obstacles. Indeed, it affects so much of our IT thinking that overcoming traditional perceptions will be a serious obstacle to any new enabling technology in this category. But without overcoming distance - and I mean more than few dozen kilometers - none of this is particularly interesting as a strategic enabling technology. Up to now, most of our pooling and clustering thinking has been limited to "what can I do in a data center" or "what can I do with co-located data centers We propose nothing less than breaking this barrier in a fundamental and meaningful way.
I don't see how any proposed solution is going to do away with the latency issue - data is going to take time to be delivered down a pipe, no matter how fat it is. But presuming that this is not all a giant tease, EMC is proposing a change that will fundamentally shift the way that we do business. Companies have become so used to latency issues that data centres are routinely placed near head offices - regardless of real estate, labour and power costs. If latency disappears as an issue - what does that mean for the way that enterprise's infrastructure is developed?
The trouble with the Hollis blog is that there's so little detail - just a little plug for EMCWorld in May, where presumably more will be revealed.
Last week, Cisco hyped up an announcement that it claimed would change the Internet forever. I, and several others, were rather cynical about these claims - not without reason when all Cisco revealed was a new router, faster than its previous offerings, but not game-changing. Yet, the EMC announcement, which does hint at something that is set to revoluutionise IT, almost sneaked in through the back door. What is double ironic is that Cisco, EMC's partner in many activties, will probably play a large part in the delivery of this new EMC technology - perhaps it will get involved a technology that will "change the Internet forever", after all.
Follow Maxwell on Twitter @maxcooter