EMC defines open source strategy, opens ScaleIO to freemium model

EMC’s announcements indicate that EMC’s open source strategy is becoming much more critical, something the company says is good news for their channel partners.

Jeremy Burton 300

Jeremy Burton, President, Products and Marketing, EMC

LAS VEGAS – On the second day of EMC World, EMC announced that its ScaleIO converged storage software solution will be available as a free download for unlimited time and unlimited capacity for non-production use.In addition, CoprHD, an Open Source Version of EMC ViPR Controller is also being released. These measures are part of a strategy designed to make EMC’s open source strategy much more critical than has been the case in the past.

“This is a historic day,” said Jeremy Burton, President, Products and Marketing, EMC. “We firmly believe the applications of the future will be architected in a different way. They will be distributed and they will scale out, and that leads to a requirement for a different kind of infrastructure. It means that a different philosophy is required as well.”

Burton also said that in this environment, the developer may have more power than ever, certainly since the mid-1990s.

“I think we are entering another golden age of application development where the developer is king,” Burton said. “Developers are going to steal software. We want them to steal ours. That’s a fundamental shift from where we were.”

Accordingly, Burton announced that EMC ScaleIO, a software-only solution that turns existing server storage into shared block storage, will be made available free to developers for non-production use. EMC also announced the ScaleIO Product Community on the EMC Community Network (ECN). The ScaleIO Product Community is an interactive information exchange platform for technical support, questions for ScaleIO experts, product documentation, downloads, user guides, FAQs and training.

“EMC making software freely available to developers who want to try it out for non-production use, with the idea to see if they like it and later buy it for production, is a big philosophical change, which you wouldn’t have seen even a couple years ago,” Burton said. “This is one of our most successful products in the last couple years, and now it has an open source product around it.

Burton also said this is a portent of EMC’s future strategy, not a one-off thing.

“It’s the beginning of an open source strategy for most if not all of our third platform offerings,” he said. “Free software for developers, an open source strategy, and open source community based development will play a huge role in our future. This is not your father’s EMC.”

CJ Desai, President of EMC’s Emerging Technologies Division, said that while ScaleIO had been available to developers previously in what EMC had earlier considered as free availability, in reality, it wasn’t really free, and adoption was poor as a result.

“We let developers download, but if you wanted to download, it required you to fill out a lot of forms, and you were told an EMC salesperson would contact you,” Desai said. “Adoption was not great because it was just not really freely available.”

Now it is.

“This is ideal for developers who want to start small and build scale-out applications, so we are making this freely available the end of this month,” Desai said. “This downloaded software has no time limit, no capacity limit – it’s the same version as the commercial product. This is a big moment for the team.”

“The numbers on ScaleIO are so good – it is 24 times better than Ceph – that our philosophy is let’s give this to customers and let them try it out, because it is so good they will pay for it,” said Suresh Sathyamurthy, Senior Director, Product Marketing Emerging Technologies Division. “We believe that this is a groundbreaking product in terms of performance and benefits.”

Sathyamurthy said the freemium model is designed to be frictionless, with EMC also providing technical documents and user support to the free users.

“We want them using it so they can see the value, not to get their names, which is how we used to do this before,” he said. While no salesperson will call, there is a chat box so the users can ask questions and get responses.

EMC also announced the release of Project CoprHD ( pronounced ‘copperhead’), an open source version of EMC’s ViPR Controller.

“By making this open source we are taking the ‘lock in’ objection away,” Desai said. “Think of VIPR now as the commercial version of CoprHD.”

“If this strategy works out, we will also be doing it for more and more products,” Sathyamurthy said. “It will be the first of many to come.”

Asked if EMC would consider putting ViPR in OpenStack, Burton essentially said no.

“As we go down this open source path, we would prefer to contribute to existing projects like OpenStack as opposed to creating new ones like putting ViPR in OS,” he said. “There is no point in open sourcing the product and then having no one contribute. That’s called killing the product.”

Burton also stressed that the open source strategy means good news for EMC’s channel.

“For channel partners, this is demand creation,” he said. “If everyone is starting products using our software, at some point the customer will come to the point of deployments and production use, which is a great opportunity for the channel partner.”