Storage Infrastructure Automation with ViPR Controller: IT as a Service Model in Action


    We live in a world where the development of software-defined solutions (software defined), the transition of IT from managing technical parameters to the level of solving business problems and removing unnecessary links in organizational processes are real trends that are actively changing the landscape of the industry.

    Imagine a rather ordinary situation: there is a company (for example, a bank) in which there is a need for urgent development of a certain application. The developer writes requests to administrators; they manually enter the array and allocate the necessary space. The familiar pattern? Unfortunately, in the case of large corporations, it ceases to work: there are more tasks, the efficiency of their implementation is more critical, and the volume of information is increasing by orders of magnitude. Under these conditions, waiting, relatively speaking, for 2 weeks until admins allocate the necessary power is unacceptable. And, if it is possible to decompose the data manually into 10 arrays, then when there are 100 arrays, the question of process automation raises the edge.

    It is these problems that ViPR Controller solves — a simple and smart software that installs in addition to storage systems and automates their management. How this happens and why business needs such an approach - we tell in our post.

    ViPR Controller solution in the data stream plays the role of a kind of railway arrow (control plane), while the “rails” (data plane) remain the same - these are arrays, switches and servers already available in the company. Those. it does not participate in the data stream itself, but controls it. ViPR Controller connects to all levels of the system (arrays, network, server), the specialist sets the logical structure of virtual arrays for it (example: array No. 1 in Moscow, array No. 2 in St. Petersburg), and then indicates what physical components it will consist of Each of them.
    The next step is to define a set of services (service-oriented architecture in action). After we built the management infrastructure and set the virtual structure of the arrays, we create a catalog of services depending on the types of tasks that are set in our company.

    As a result, all employees who need to solve a particular problem can use this catalog. To, for example, develop an application, you only need to request a certain level of service in the catalog (gold / silver, protected / insecure, etc.) using the self service portal. The necessary amount of memory is provided promptly, so there is no longer any need to wait for the reaction of administrators.

    Thus, from solving technical issues, we rise to the level of solving business problems using IT, and in addition, we significantly reduce the number of links in the organization chain and save valuable time.

    Each storage manufacturer has a specific set of controls. The main technical “trick” of ViPR Controller is that it is equipped with all the libraries necessary to access arrays of various manufacturers (EMC, Hitachi, IBM, HP, etc.), moreover, there is a wonderful tool out of the box - a library of working with Openstack Cinder , which has de facto become one of the key storage management tools in the world today and allows working with arrays of many manufacturers using drivers developed by the same manufacturers. All that needs to be done is to define a common logical structure. ViPR Controller through the native software for each array (either using Cinder as a layer) will do all the “black” work - select volumes on the necessary arrays and “cut” them in an optimal way to solve a specific problem.

    Inside the virtual arrays built using ViPR Controller there can be various pools and types of memory (fast flash, slow disks, depending on the specific tasks). In the resulting hierarchy, we can subsequently use performance analysis tools. Moreover, you can now forget about such a concept as Storage Silos, since the system forcibly tries to utilize all available resources evenly depending on the level of service / virtual array / virtual pool, etc.

    By the way, not only storage systems can be connected to ViPR Controller - it is also able to manage servers and use them for additional capacity. But this is a topic for a separate post.

    Attempts to create a system like ViPR Controller have already been made by IT vendors, but for various reasons these projects have not had much success so far. EMC Corporation began to actively promote the idea of ​​software-defined storage systems about a year ago, and ViPR Controller is currently an objectively unique solution on the market, as none of its analogs works with heterogeneous storage systems of various manufacturers.

    Why is this needed
    ? Firstly, using the ViPR Controller system tremendously speeds up the execution of necessary tasks. That task, the solution of which in the "old-fashioned" way can take several days or even weeks, with the configured ViPR Controller is solved in minutes. As the saying goes, "feel the difference." This is especially true for modern business tasks, often requiring instant response.

    Secondly, ViPR Controller is an excellent tool for protecting the transparency of IT processes in an organization. In Russia at the moment this problem is not so acute, but in the West, IT transparency is becoming one of the most relevant topics in the industry. Let us give an example: IT resources of a corporation are distributed “in the old fashion” - by the IT department. The developers have an urgent business task, they ask the IT department for the necessary resources and get the answer "within two weeks we will provide." Without thinking twice, developers buy the necessary capacities on Amazon on their own and for their own money - the benefit, it is relatively inexpensive, and solving the problem mobile in such cases is much more important. As a result, people who own the intellectual property of the corporation deploy it on third-party resources that are subject to frequent attacks by attackers.

    Thirdly, such an approach naturally saves the company costs due to the freed up time of IT personnel. The more capacities, the more difficult and expensive it is to manage them, and ViPR Controller uses resources with maximum efficiency.

    Fourth, a single “umbrella” appears in the structure of IT processes, which covers a heterogeneous “iron”. For example, if a company uses storage systems of different manufacturers, each of them uses its own technology for integration with other elements of the system. If you need to deploy, for example, monitoring, then it will need to be manually adapted to the technologies of each of the manufacturers of storage systems. ViPR Controller is compatible with the technologies of all storage manufacturers and builds them into an efficient system, allowing you to manage monitoring through a single integration point, connect arrays to VMware products, deploy a private cloud, etc.

    Of course, in some cases, what ViPR Controller does can be done better by the IT staff, but also, starting from a certain amount of information and the number of tasks, it just stops working. Ideal, but slow and costly ways to solve problems are replaced by good, fast and stable. Therefore, the reality is that behind systems built on the prototype of ViPR Controller, the future of the industry.

    In addition, modern development cycles do not tolerate the slowness inherent in the cumbersome hierarchy of many IT departments. And people increasingly believe in fast and high-quality solutions to business problems that are available within the capabilities of the "third platform".

    That is why the IT revolution is not in building terabytes, but in the most efficient use of them for the benefit of the business.

    And finally, “for dessert”: the ViPR Controller solution is available for free download in non-commercial use (, so you can try all its advantages for free and without time limits, and make sure how applicable it is to those business tasks and problems that arise or may arise in your work.

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