EMC's Project Bourne morphed into ViPR at the EMC World 2013 event at Las Vegas last week. It seems like everyone has a different take on what should be included in SDS, and my definition and implementation guidelines can be found in this report. Like other vendors, EMC is promising to revolutionize the way customers will provision, manage and create storage resources using ViPR, which will become a key component in the vendor's Software Defined Data Center strategy for virtualizing compute, networking, and storage resources.  Unlike other years, where EMC bombarded its attendees with dozens of product launches, this year's show focused almost entirely on ViPR, which makes sense given the importance of this technology. ViPR is expected to become generally available in the latter half of 2013, and like all other SDS implementations, ViPR is designed to reduce the number of administrators it takes to manage rapidly growing data repositories by using automation and self-service provisioning. So what's under ViPR's covers?

Broad storage support: ViPR's controller software is designed to work with EMC's storage systems (Isilon, VMAX, VNX) in addition to third-party systems and commodity hardware. EMC is making the APIs for ViPR open for customers and other storage vendors to use, and the software will take advantage of the capabilities of the underlying arrays (snapshots, replication, etc.).

Storage virtualization: ViPR separates the control and data plane in its storage virtualization. At this point, the data movement can be done using VPLEX or RecoverPoint.

Self-service provisioning: EMC is using software from its iWave acquisition in its ViPR provisioning engine, which has also been used in the VMAX Cloud Edition.

Object data services: This is the first service that will be available with ViPR and will allow customers to add object storage capabilities to existing storage systems. ViPR's object service will have compatibility with EMC's Atmos, Amazon's S3 and OpenStack Swift.

At this point, it is important to remember that the move to SDS will be a long multi-year journey and we are just in the first phase. So what's missing and what questions remain?

EMC built it, but will rivals come? Though EMC's APIs will be made available to the public, the vendor's rivals will not be eager to accelerate the integration process. EMC claims it will be easy for customers to integrate ViPR with existing kits, though I'd be more apt to believe it when I see this in action.

What about other data movers? At this point, only EMC's RecoverPoint and VPLEX are providing the important storage virtualization capabilities to move data to systems with ViPR. I'd like to see support for other popular platforms such as IBM's SVC.

Additional software services? I'd like to see EMC release virtual software-only versions of the Isilon scale-out NAS platform and the XtremIO flash array out into the wild. Though these platforms are sold as tightly integrated appliances today, the core innovation is all in software and could potentially run on commodity hardware.