Big data: EMC on a market in flux and why global datacentres are still years away

Is big data ready to go beyond the hype and into IT infrastructure?

...ready for - and it appears buyers still haven't caught up a year after launch. The long-awaited year of the cloud has yet to truly arrive, and having become comfortable with server virtualisation, organisations are only now looking to do the same with storage.

"I think it's all following on the coat-tails of cloud," Jane Clabby, research analyst at Clabby Analytics, told "Maybe a year ago, businesses were predicted to start adopting cloud technologies, and maybe they did - on a small scale with private cloud, that type of thing.

"Now you're seeing businesses looking for hybrid cloud architectures. What can they purchase as a cloud service rather than having it internally on a private cloud, and how can you blend those two environments together? Certainly, products like VPlex can enable that," she told

Quocirca's Longbottom agrees. "VPlex will be a slow burner - cloud is not going to have happened overnight. 2012 is not the year of cloud. It will be the year where cloud starts to be mainstream but in 2020 we will still be looking at companies and saying, 'Look, this company hasn't fully taken to cloud yet'. VPlex and other similar techs will all be part of following this long tail."

VPlex offers what EMC's Gelsinger describes as "volume over distance". At present, that distance is in the range of 1000km, or where latency is less than five milliseconds, with the likes of AOL using it to connect up datacentres along the East Coast of the US.

However, the overarching vision for such products is to have them able to link datacentres over a far larger distance - across the globe.

For most businesses, a distance of hundreds or a thousand kilometres is likely to be enough, allowing them to build in a sufficient level of redundancy - if a datacentre in one location goes down due to a natural disaster, say, another at a distance of a 100km is likely to be unaffected. But for some global players, there's still that need to tackle greater distances.

How long until the vision of global connectedness becomes a reality? According to Gelsinger, we're still some way away.

"The full vision is on the order of two years," he said.

"As you stretch the distance [over which you're] running datacentre A with B with C, that's where more complex topology needs to be addressed and it will be a couple of years till those issues are addressed."