EMC enters the capacity-on-demand fray

EMC has taken a new tack toward on-demand storage. The company is offering an automated billing system that tracks storage usage of every component in a customer's SAN and allows new components to be activated and billed for instantaneously.

Capacity on demand is not a new concept in storage, but EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., said the addition of automation to its OpenScale billing system goes "a step beyond" traditional pay-as-you-go storage models.

According to EMC, the new program monitors storage usage of every component in a customer's storage area network (SAN). The company said OpenScale's automated billing application operates behind the scenes to track, meter and bill customers as they activate new storage hardware and software applications.

EMC said OpenScale streamlines the procurement process and provides users with access to dormant storage capacity and other storage resources. The bottom line: Faster access to new storage hardware and software.

Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst with the Taneja Group, Hopkinton, Mass., said that many vendors are now providing customers with software that they can use to bill departments based upon the type of storage and services used.

He said EMC is different, because the company will place additional gear at a customer site so it can be deployed any time it is needed, without "the hassle of procurement and signatures" and bill users for the actual assets deployed. In other words, it's capacity-on-demand storage.

"This program attacks the front end of the buying process, whereas the other software is designed to capture actual usage by entities," Taneja said.

 

While storage rivals IBM Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Veritas Software Corp. and others have been using the model for some time, EMC said OpenScale is more advanced than traditional on-demand models because it automatically bills customers for their entire networked storage infrastructure, including storage capacity, SAN switch ports, network-attached storage (NAS) servers and storage software.

Taneja said there are examples of similar capacity-on-demand offerings from Sun and others, but they may not have the software tools for charging the customer at a "fine grain" level.

EMC may not be as late to the game as it seems. Bill Rafferty, vice president of global financial services, said OpenScale has been offered to customers for more than a year to alleviate the burden of "operational inefficiencies."

"Our customers tell us 12 to 15 people have to sign off on a purchase requisition. Then it was 12 to 18 months until deployment," Rafferty said.

He added, "What we determined was [that] trying to track storage usage was very personnel intensive without software to do the heavy lifting."

OpenScale provides automated billing for EMC Symmetrix, EMC Clariion, EMC Connectrix and EMC Celerra systems as well as EMC TimeFinder and SRDF software.

Rafferty said that more than 50 customers have already signed on for the service. The pricing for OpenScale varies depending on the size and scope of each storage environment.

OpenScale automated billing uses agentless collector technologies from the EMC ControlCenter family of management software. The collector automatically detects when the customer activates new storage capacity, SAN switch ports, NAS servers and storage software and provides that information to EMC's OpenScale billing application.

EMC developed OpenScale automated billing after it acquired Luminate Software in late 2001. A combination of internal software development and Luminate's performance-monitoring software allowed EMC to produce an automated billing tracker for the entire storage infrastructure.

Let us know what you think about the story. E-mailKevin Komiega, News Writer

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