EMC is planning to develop a unified storage system that functions as a single virtual resource pool but is spread out around the world.
The theoretical system, which would use YottaYotta
technology, promises to be able to overcome limitations such as latency, bandwidth and cache coherency, to allow people from all over the world to access and update the data simultaneously.
EMC's future approach to storage virtualization, dubbed storage federation, will utilize “entirely new storage models – not only more efficient than their predecessors, but entirely new approaches to storage on demand,” EMC Vice President Chuck Hollis said in a blog post.
Hollis acknowledged that this was an ambitious goal for EMC. “For one thing, to be truly useful, storage federation must overcome many of the fundamental challenges that result from distance,” he said. “And this is hard for us -- both technologically as well as intellectually.”
Modern networking architecture is designed around limitations such as latency and bandwidth constraints, so designing storage architecture that breaks these barriers will require a complete rethink, he added.
Recent advances in
technology have helped make the goal achievable, Hollis said. For example memory is becoming dirt cheap, so very large caches are becoming possible – one Cisco UCS supports 384 GB in a single blade.
technology would use resources acquired from Canadian startup YottaYotta when it went bankrupt in 2008. YottaYotta built distributed caching technology clustered on WAN networks, connected via InfiniBand or GigE. When a file was changed on one end, it was updated across the cloud.
But “a fundamental new body of computer science research” will be required to enable the interconnection of multiple large, distributed caches – research EMC is keen to kickstart.
The development of storage federation could then help the industry move towards a concept EMC is calling global federation – in which both storage systems and the applications that use them operate from a global dynamic pool of resources.
EMC cloud executive Pat Gelsinger has promised to reveal more at May's EMC World event in Boston.