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EMC acquires open-source assets from SourceLabs

Beth Pariseau
EMC Corp. confirmed today that it has acquired assets from SourceLabs Inc., an open-source software management and support vendor, for an undisclosed amount.

EMC officials say the assets, which include "a number of the company's employees," will become part of EMC's cloud infrastructure group, but offered no further comment on how the IP and people will fit into its broader portfolio. Because the acquisition price is not material to EMC's financials, it didn't disclose how much it paid for SourceLabs' assets.

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"SourceLabs continues to operate as a standalone business," added an EMC spokesperson in an email to SearchStorage.com today.

SourceLabs' Continuous Support System for Linux and open-source Java offers automated diagnostics and troubleshooting in open-source environments, matching an individual user's information against a repository of known Linux and Java issues. SourceLabs also makes the Open Source Management System, software for managing larger, open-source software environments, and owns the SWiK Web portal that combines features of Wikis, databases, social bookmarking services and search engines.

EMC didn't say which of the SourceLabs pieces it acquired, but each one could potentially provide value to the storage vendor. The Continuous Support System could be competitive with Symantec Corp.'s Veritas Installation Assessment Service, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that checks Linux server software configurations against a Symantec known-issues repository; and Health Check, which provides ongoing assessment of Linux configurations.

The Open Source Management System can automatically enforce configuration consistency and compliance across larger, open-source software deployments, which would match some of the capabilities EMC already provides with other software such as EMC Documentum or NTP Software's QFS.

But SWiK could also be what EMC was after, given the company's focus on cloud-based services delivery and developing automated interactive interfaces for accessing data in the cloud.

Chris Wolf, a senior analyst at Burton Group, says SourceLabs could flesh out EMC's service offerings in the cloud. "Self-service support is a key enabler for low-cost cloud services, such as hosted storage," he says. "I see this move as a key part of EMC's strategy as it looks to take on Amazon and other competitors in the cloud space."

Another Burton Group senior analyst, Nik Simpson, doubts that SWiK was EMC's target. "I would bet it's built on an open-source project itself. You can't guarantee the code running [SWiK] has anything to do with SourceLabs specifically," says Simpson.

Simpson points out that without more information it's unclear if EMC might have snapped up open-source support assets for internal use only, but the involvement of the cloud group "could signal the intent to support customers developing applications in the cloud in a Java framework," he says. "The best we can do now is speculate."

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the San Jose, CA-based Enderle Group, says EMC may simply be acquiring an open-source audience for a cheap price. "A lot of open-source companies are under severe financial stress, and have been supported with donations and VC [venture capital] funding," he says. With the economic crisis, venture capitalist support "has evaporated," he notes. In the meantime, if EMC could ensure the viability of SourceLabs' community, it could benefit from that community's support.

News of the deal was first reported Friday on a TechFlash blog claiming EMC had acquired the entire startup.

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