EMC hopes to extend ViPR Controller's reach with open-source release

Third parties will be able to contribute code and build their own products with it

EMC will release its ViPR Controller storage automation and control software as an open-source project, letting third parties develop their own services and applications on top of it and possibly make ViPR work with more parts of enterprise storage environments.

The open-source release, called Project CoprHD, is set to go up on GitHub next month. It will be licensed under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 so vendors, developers and others can contribute to the code. Project CoprHD will have essentially all the capabilities of ViPR Controller, which EMC will continue to sell in a commercial version that includes service and support.

ViPR Controller is intended to turn multiple storage systems from EMC and other vendors into a single virtual pool and automate the provisioning of data capacity to applications based on policies. Among other things, it can work with most storage platforms from EMC, plus major hardware and software products from several other vendors, including HP, NetApp, HDS (Hitachi Data Systems) and Microsoft, according to EMC.

EMC wants ViPR Controller to reach as many storage platforms as possible, increasing its value to typical enterprises with multi-vendor environments. Releasing the software as open source should advance that goal, said Sam Grocott, senior vice president of marketing for EMC's Emerging Technologies Division.

Most third-party products are more lightly integrated with ViPR Controller than EMC's products are, so they don't have the same feature-by-feature list of capabilities that EMC has been able to build itself.

"The hope is it will drive faster and, more importantly, deeper integration across this wide set of platforms we support today," Grocott said. About half of EMC's ViPR Controller business is with customers that use it with both EMC and third-party systems, he said.

ViPR can do some things no other product on the market does, but its usefulness with non-EMC storage systems is limited, IDC analyst Ashish Nadkarni said. Increasing its multivendor capability would help both EMC and its customers, and open-sourcing the code might be a good way to make that happen.

Competitors are more likely to start working with Project CoprHD than to give EMC access to their code, Nadkarni said. But how much they will actually do so remains to be seen, he said.

Third parties will be able to build new products and services based on Project CoprHD and include only the components they need. But under the licensing scheme, any modifications a developer makes to the source code have to be published as open source. EMC is committed to including all published contributions in future commercial releases of ViPR Controller.

ViPR Controller is the first commercial software EMC has released as open source, but there will be more to come, according to Grocott. Customers and partners now expect vendor intellectual property to coexist with open source, he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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