There are some things that don’t initially seem to belong together, but exceptional goodness can come of the marriage: peanut butter and jelly might be one famed-but-domestic example, while in data storage things like the public cloud and mainframes might seem equally unlikely partners until the results are tasted. In both examples it’s not a matter of figuring whether each component element is inherently good, or even whether they can be enjoyed in parallel. No, the magic happens when there’s full integration.
And so, we now have what Oracle calls “Engineered Cloud Tiering”, which is the term Oracle is applying to the capabilities of its new VSM 7. VSM has long been an offering from Oracle; it uses very fast storage to act as an operational-tape-equivalent (but of course offering much higher performance) and/or a buffer to much higher capacity/slower archival storage. The new VSM is extremely capacious and speedy, and it can now work with many "open systems", aside from its traditional mainframes. Thus, aside from committed Oracle hardware users (which, as far as the topic of this blog goes, is really to say the Sun/StorageTek aficionados that Oracle subsumed) many IT organizations might be excused for having missed VSM versions 1 through 6. But this new VSM 7, just announced, deserves more attention from a broader swathe of IT users for a couple of key reasons:
- This new version can range up to 204PB (raw) and 640 GB/sec — the kind of specs that command attention and respect when you're talking scale and speed! But beyond the chest-beating numbers the big operationally crucial point is that the VSM 7 can tier seamlessly to the Oracle Public Cloud without agents or gateways. It simply is a class-of-service that integrates the on premise systems and the Oracle public cloud. The latter essentially becomes an extension of the former (hence the title of this blog), and the sheer — essentially unlimited — scalability of cloud storage that is so simply integrated with what's on prem will be a tough act for those vendors that don't have a public cloud of their own to follow. The likes of EMC (there was news of its DLM just yesterday) and HP will need to think about how to address this new challenge, as Oracle (via its traditional database business) has a whole raft of shared clients.
- The integration of VSM with cloud storage now offers mainframe customers a new class of storage — with a highly attractive cost/GB — that can be treated as if it’s on-premises, and that is perfect for not only DP and BC purposes but also for providing simple access to archived data. Now of course, such "big iron" users are not only often naturally conservative but are (increasingly these days as we "rediscover" the value of the mainframe) also often running some of the most crucial and mission-critical contemporary apps that are out there. They will not want to trust their data — any of it — to just any old public cloud, with limited knowledge of the tools or control of the data. This of course is what could well make the new Oracle offering simultaneously attractive to users and a genuine threat to the traditional mainframe storage vendors: it is not "any old public cloud", but rather is built of the exact same enterprise infrastructure (flash, disk, and, yes, tape) that Oracle sells to the on-premises market.
While this is all very interesting (not to mention useful and compelling), VSM 7 can also be seen as a part of Oracle’s overall strategy: it's yet another element that continues Oracle’s transformation (maybe expansion is a better word?) from “just” the database business, via hardware and systems, and through to spreading its arms around ever more of the data ecosystem. In this light, the VSM 7 news is rather less about product capabilities and comparisons, and rather more about its strategic fit. As the vast majority of vendors can offer only private or arms-length-public-cloud connectivity, but not both directly (as compared to Oracle which actually does both itself), so their ability to deliver a truly integrated data management agglomeration is also curtailed. Comparing Oracle's abilities to the norm for other vendors in this space is therefore not "apples to apples"; at best it can be "apples to oranges", but more often it is "apples to some sort of fruit salad"!
The bottom line is that data matters above all in IT; everything else is [pretty] easily replaceable. Data is not; and increasingly users want to ensure that they can vacuum up, use, manage and protect all their data in an economically attractive way that doesn’t constrain their usage of it. By integrating its public cloud into the real (earthy!) world with VSM 7, Oracle is expanding its ability to deliver against this desire across all data-types, platforms and consumption models.