EMC open sources ViPR Controller, eyes broader software defined storage footprint

Enterprises want a mix of proprietary and open source code and EMC taking the plunge with its ViPR Controller, which manages its arrays as well as systems from third parties.

EMC on Tuesday said it would open source the code behind is ViPR Controller in a move that indicates that the storage giant will be bringing more software to the broader developer community.

The announcement, made at EMC World in Las Vegas, is notable on a few fronts. First, EMC has rarely played in the open source community. EMC contributes to various projects, but doesn't typically open source its proprietary code. EMC's federation companies VMware and Pivotal work more closely with open source, but the mother ship has been primarily proprietary with its applications.

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Another key theme behind EMC's move is that the enterprise has moved to a mix of proprietary and open source software. And if hardware vendors are going to be more software defined they will have to find a broader audience beyond managing proprietary systems.

Project CoprHD changes is one of EMC's first major forays into open source. EMC will release the core features and functionality of the ViPR Controller to GitHub as a community projects in June. EMC will continue to offer a commercial version of ViPR.

ViPR is the key platform behind EMC's software defined storage strategy. EMC's bet is that Project CoprHD's application programming interfaces will be a vendor-neutral control point for storage automation.

The big question is why is EMC taking an open source turn now?

Sam Grocott, senior vice president of marketing and product management at EMC's emerging technologies division, said the biggest reason the company is open sourcing its ViPR code is that partners and customers wanted it.

ViPR manages both EMC and third party storage arrays and the customer base wanted to accelerate its coverage. EMC has been shipping ViPR for about two years. By the numbers, ViPR manages more third party arrays than EMC's, but the automation and deep integration typically goes to the storage giant's systems.

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Salvatore DeSimone, chief technology officer at EMC's advanced software division, acknowledged that there would be some skepticism about the ViPR open source move. To counter those worries, DeSimone said that Project CoprHD will be licensed under Mozilla 2.0, which dictates that any modifications to the code has to be published. If EMC went with Apache 2.0 it could modify the code without publishing it.

"We were operating under the assumption that the community and other storage vendors may be skeptical of what EMC's intentions are," said DeSimone. "With Mozilla 2.0 EMC can't take some version of the code that's secret. Going Mozilla 2.0 is a statement of intent."

The upshot to this development is that EMC will be sending more code to open source projects. "Project CoprHD is just the first one out of the gate," said Grocott.

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