EMC’s shift in Data Lake strategy opens up new partner opportunities

EMC’s Data Lake 2.0 significantly enhances the original core-focused Data Lake strategy by extending it to the edge and the cloud, as well as strengthening the core. This is also likely to expand partner opportunities somewhat beyond the very limited involvement thought likely when the original Data lake was announced.

Jeremy Burton 300

Jeremy Burton, President, Products & Marketing at EMC

This week EMC announced the second generation of its EMC Isilon Scale-out NAS Data Lake, which enhances much more than the original Data Lake concept the role of the edge. It will also have the effect of offering more opportunity for partners than the original Data Lake.

EMC unveiled the original Data Lake with much fanfare only seven months ago, and now with Data Lake 2.0, it is announcing changes that offer a pretty radical reworking of the original concept. Data Lake 1.0 created a vast pool for unstructured data that would be available at the core data centre. Data Lake 2.0 shifts that to also make the data available at data center edge locations such as remote offices, and archived in the cloud.

“The Data Lake 1.0 strategy was predicated on a single centralized data centre, whereby we could consolidate all the information in a single place,” said Jeremy Burton, President, Products & Marketing at EMC. “It was really limited by the availability of knowledge at the place where the data resided to analyze the data. It wasn’t really a global strategy for managing information. So we will leave 1.0 behind and move the ball down the field to Data Lake 2.0.”

Data Lake 2.0 is all about managing unstructured data in a simple and consistent way within the core data centre, at edge locations and in the cloud.

“Data Lake 2.0 is really about empowering a global workforce,” Burton said. “It’s about connecting those siloes of information at the edge and connecting those to the core and having them operate as one complete integrated system.”

The problem, Burton said, isn’t just that the amount of data is increasing massively, but that the number of devices it is on is growing at an even faster rate.

“While the amount of data is increasing, the amount of data per device is decreasing – and that’s a bad thing, because the data gets fragmented,” he said. “So we need a strategy to bring all of that data together so it can be analyzed for competitive advantage.”

“We always had a great scale-out file system second to none in the industry with Isilon that was ideally suited for the Data Lake,” said Dan Marazzato, Canadian District Manager Canada for EMC Isilon. “Data Lake 2.0 is a big change in strategy.”

EMC announced three new products which redefine this strategy. IsilonSD Edge is a new software-defined solution which simplifies data management in remote offices, or edge locations. The next generation of the Isilon OneFS operating system enhances the Data Lake at the core, improving resiliency, simplifying management, and providing continuous operations for massive Data Lakes. Isilon CloudPools, a new software application, lets Isilon tier data natively to public clouds such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Virtustream without requiring a cloud gateway.

Phil Bullinger, senior vice president for EMC’s Isilon product line, said that traditionally, knowledge workers at the edge have had limited storage, and IT’s ability to it has been limited as well.

“IsilonSD Edge solves this problem – working globally and accessing data locally,” he said.

“It all starts with this new software at the edge. It is software defined, so it runs on commodity hardware, and it runs on top of a VMware hypervisor, so is easy to get up and running.” Bullinger also noted that it scales to 36 TB of capacity, is free to try for non-production use, and easy to purchase with a simple per cluster license fee.

“It’s all about enabling global collaboration among a distributed workforce with the ease that IT requires,” he said.

The core that was at the heart of Data Lake 1.0 is also being strengthened with the next-generation of Isilon OneFS.

“This next generation makes the core more resilient because the data centre needs to be up always,” Bullinger said. A major enhancement here is full Non-Disruptive Upgrade (NDU) support. While OneFS has supported NDU for minor code families, it now works across major code families to enhance the resiliency of the Data Lake.

“This makes possible non-disruptive upgrades of software with no disruption to users,” Bullinger said.

The new OneFS software also has software upgrade rollback capabilities that let customers restore their application or end-user environments to a pre-upgrade state as required.

The third new product announcement is EMC CloudPools, a new software application for the Isilon product line that allows Isilon to be easily extended to public, private and hybrid clouds, while effectively tiering colder data. CloudPools let Isilon tier data natively to public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Virtustream without needing a cloud gateway. CloudPools also enable data center expansion to EMC Elastic Cloud Storage and Isilon as a private cloud.

“We always had tiering in the original Data Lake so you could tier data, but we are now taking this one step further to allow tiering off to the cloud,” Marazzato said.

So what does all this do for EMC channel partners? When Data Lake 1.0 was announced, the drawback for the channel was that the technology was so cutting edge, relatively few partners would be able to take part. The estimation for EMC Canada was that perhaps their top six partners in Canada would be involved, if that.

“This will make implementation easier because we now handle the edge,” Marazzato said. “The partner doesn’t need to get another technology to provide that. It’s the same with cloud. Because we now offer edge and cloud connectivity in a single package, this should make it easier for some more partners to implement it.”

Marazzato said that consolidating all the unstructured storage from both the core and the edge in one place will also make it easier for partners to offer services around that data.

“Having it all in one place will make it easier to look at for analysis and getting insights,” he said. “We have partners now that are able now to offer analytics-as-a-service based on the Isilon technology.”

All three new offerings will be generally available in early 2016. Pricing information will be made available at time of general availability.