EMC debuts Elastic Cloud Storage Appliance

Jeremy Burton, president of EMC’s Information Infrastructure business

Jeremy Burton, president of EMC’s Information Infrastructure business

LAS VEGAS – EMC debuted the results of its much-ballyhooed Project Nile effort this week at EMC World, introducing what it calls an Elastic Cloud Storage Appliance based on its ViPR software-defined storage technology which it claims will let enterprises and service providers beat the big public cloud providers at their own cost game.

EMC first discussed Project Nile six months ago, with the promise of delivering something akin to “Amazon S3 in a box,” and that’s what the ECSA offers, said Jeremy Burton, president of EMC’s Information Infrastructure group.

“It’s cloud-scale, it’s elastic, it’s self-service, and it will run at Exabyte scale,” Burton said in announcing the ECSA. “It’s not an online service, but it will deliver storage-as-a-service either internally or externally.”

As that comment suggests, EMC is targeting two audiences with the ECSA – enterprise customers interested in running their own large-scale cloud-like storage deployments, and service providers who want to break into the cloud storage game themselves. For both groups, the company claims an economic advantage going with ECSA over public cloud. For an 11.5 Petabyte system, EMC says its ECSA will offer a four-year TCO of $5.7 million, compared to $8.0 million for Amazon Web Services, or $7.4 million for Google. And Burton said that like those public cloud offerings, it will be able to be deployed in “a matter of minutes” with minimal configuration or intervention.

The appliance will be available in a number of different capacities, all supporting object, HDFS, or block storage, or a mix of all of the above. In pure object/HDFS mode, the company will support 360 TB, 1.4 PB and 2.9 PB configurations, as well as 120 TB or 240 TB in block-only.

Burton said that the ECSA is partially the result of its lessons from building and operating cloud-scale storage for “a number of large sites we can’t name.”

“We’ve got a fair bit of experience in doing this. We just don’t talk about our price cuts as much as the other guys talk about theirs,” he quipped.

While the product is clearly targeted at enterprise and large service provider customers, Keith Coughlin, director of cross business unit marketing at EMC, said he expects it will also find homes down-market, particularly in the EMC partner community, where the ability to easily offer a cloud storage infrastructure to customers who may otherwise be lured to large public cloud storage providers may prove attractive.

“We’ve found so many times in the past that when we roll out a product for a certain segment, it has a lot of usage in other markets as well,” Coughlin said. “This is a great use case for service providers. It’s easy to buy, and it will provide the partner community with an easy way to go to market.”

The ECS Appliance is slated for general availability in the second half of the year.

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