VNXe More than Just Storage

In my article entitled EMC VNXe Spurs Thinking Outside the Box I discussed the possibility of combining several EMC technologies to make a Forensic’s security appliance. This has spurred even further thoughts on this new and revolutionary approach to storage. The possibilities are pretty endless given the ability to ‘refactor’ physical components into virtual components that will run within the VNXe (and for that matter the entire VNX family of products). Granted, some of these ideas need to wait for devices that will work with the add on slot in the back of the VNX controllers: FC or FCoE anyone? But for what else can we use VNXe?My thoughts are in the realm of security, disaster recovery, performance, and business continuity for not just the enterprise but for the SMB as well. Actually, given the VNXe’s expandability to include fibre channel cards in the future. This storage looks very attractive to those SMBs who have made the investment previously to move towards fibre. Making use of your existing infrastructure whether fabric or Ethernet would lower the cost of adoption for the low-end EMC product. The VNXe’s expandability is one of those items that makes it an attractive tool for other uses. What are those uses? Some other uses of ‘refactoring’ of non-EMC virtual appliances would be:

  • A storage device that not only speaks VAAI to offload some of the hypervisor storage commands, but one that could participate in vStorage (or similar API for other hypervisors) to in effect, create a hardware backup device. Perhaps one that ties directly to the Data Domain Archiver.
  • A storage device that could use the vStorage API, or some other backup technology to restore VMs to another storage device to do automated backup testing, replication, and file recovery. I envision this as a combination of EMC VNXe with a ‘refactored’ Veeam SureBackup appliance. This combination, would move into the storage device all the necessary tools to offload backups completely, replicate data, but also TEST those backups on a regular basis. Once more, I see this tied to a Data Domain Archiver.
  • A storage device that could integrate Infrastructure Performance Management, and other monitoring tools directly so that we have a direct mapping from VM workload to the disk within the VNX/VNXe in the way that Akorri performs this task.
  • A storage device that could have ‘refactored’ virtual appliances that could be rented to provide disaster avoidance at need. Such as when we know the hurricane is heading your way and you want to enable VPLEX for just the time period needed to send your data 60 miles inland to another data center.
  • A storage device that would be able to replicate an entire physical and virtual environment to some secure storage within a security lab which can sever its ties to the outside world once the replication has taken place. Then within the security lab all the VMs could be booted properly to in essence have a complete duplicate of the entire virtual and physical environment which would allow for a complete penetration test of the environment, including destructive tests.

This later example of the power of the VNX/VNXe would require a duplicate physical network as well within the security lab. But all the penetration testing tools would also reside within a ‘refactored’ virtual appliance for the VNXe. So that all we would have to do, to do any of these things would be to wheel in a VNX/VNXe, install the appropriate ‘refactored’ virtual appliance, and go.

This opens up a new possibilities to EMC and others to improve upon the enabling technology of the VNX family of products:

  • EMC should provide development tools to allow third parties to ‘refactor’ their own appliances if possible.
  • EMC should work with hosting companies that are within 60 miles of any coast to provide the ability to vTeleport at need data from the coast inland to provide for disaster avoidance using a refactored VPLEX that understands all block data formats (iSCSI included).
  • EMC should provide somewhere to download such ‘refactored’ appliances using the AppStore concept but with one more feature, the ability to ‘rent’ Apps at need for a set or fluid period of time.

This is a new way of thinking about a storage device. One that can do so much more than just storage but for security, disaster avoidance, recovery, backup and performance management. Virtualizing storage just took a turn in a new direction.

Edward Haletky (352 Posts)

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization. [All Papers/Publications...]

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3 Responses to VNXe More than Just Storage

  1. January 25, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    1 thing I am agreed with some bloggers comment, EMC is trying to follow the direction of their major competitor Netapp in many aspect.

  2. January 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Hello MalaysiaVM,

    Not sure they are ‘following’ actually, but the new architecture provides an increasing amount of flexibility for security possibilities. DR/BC are provided by both vendors, DA via VPLEX only available from EMC, NetApp has their own possibilities. How big a play VPLEX is, depends on whom you talk to.

    The ability to in effect ‘embed’ security elements into the storage is something not many companies have available outside of standard encryption mechanisms for storage. Storage needs more security than it has, but nothing has come close to the possibilities in the VNX/VNXe line up that I have seen. This is a real side-benefit of the architecture, whether or not EMC will capitalize on the possibilities is something I look forward to finding out.

    Thanks for the comments, keep em coming. :)

    Best regards,
    Edward L. Haletky

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