EMC’s Project Nile

We’re in Milan, where we just announced what we call internally, “Project Nile” — our code name for what we expect will be the first commercially available, complete web-scale storage infrastructure for the data center. Today, if a customer wants web-scale storage quickly, they have to go to the likes of Amazon or Google or another web-scale cloud provider.  But they can’t buy that and run it inside their data center, under their control. EMC wants to democratize access to this kind of architecture inside data centers, because we are starting to see a lot of interest in an on-premise solution among Fortune 2000 companies. We even think we can deliver this at a lower price point than web-scale providers do currently.

Why now?

We see customers buying larger capacities of storage from us than ever before. For example, we shipped 85 petabytes of Isilon storage to a single web-scale customer this year. To track this trend more broadly, we went back and analyzed our storage shipments over the years since EMC’s inception, in 1979. It took the company more than 25 years to ship one exabyte of storage, a cumulative amount EMC surpassed for the first time in 2005. Then, we shipped our first exabyte of storage in a single year in 2010, and then our first exabyte in a single month earlier this year. By the end of 2013, we believe we can do a single exabyte deal.

Data storage capacities are growing that dramatically. More and more, customers tell us they need capacity optimized systems inside their data centers, not so much to support traditional IT applications (such as relational databases and email servers) as much as for big, social, file sharing collaboration and other newer, web-scale applications. That explains the genesis of Project Nile inside EMC.

To be competitive, we plan to deliver these systems at a lower price point than web-scale providers do today, and we plan to make them as easy to buy and as easy to consume as public cloud services. So a CIO will be able to implement this infrastructure at a lower cost than handing over company data to web-scale public cloud providers. And service providers will be able to stand up their own services to compete with the big guys.

On price point alone, we believe there is an opening in the marketplace for this kind of solution, because web-scale cloud providers can be a lot more costly than presumed. Even customers who use them today will acknowledge that public clouds are not cheaper over the long run. Their attractiveness is quick and convenient deployment, which we plan to offer with a new go-to-market model for EMC: go online, order what you need, buy it, and use it in your data center. To make it easy for our customers, we’ll simplify and streamline the configuration process. Our vision is that you’ll be able to go to emc.com like you would any e-commerce site and optimize your systems for file, block, or object storage, scaled to petabytes if that’s the capacity you need. Avoid the wait times of submitting a ticket with internal IT Help Desks while your CIO avoids the aggravation of unauthorized, noncompliant shadow IT.

Project Nile blends the best of both worlds: the convenience of web-scale, public cloud service delivery, with private cloud control… all at a price that any web scale enterprise can love — any, that is, except today’s costly, web-scale cloud providers.

Listen to the rest of my talk in Milan.

Project Nile Launch

About the Author: Jeremy Burton