Interview

EMC/Documentum buy: More vendors to follow suit

Michele Hope, SearchStorage.com Site Editor
We know EMC has been trying to reinvent itself as a software company. With the acquisition of Documentum, what message is EMC trying to convey to end users about what they can expect from the company?
I think EMC's new tag line is, "Where Information Lives." In that context, the Documentum buy makes perfect sense. It's not about storage, it's about data: how to house it, deliver it, protect it and use it. We know EMC has been trying to reinvent itself as a software company. With the acquisition of Documentum, what message is EMC trying to convey to end users about what they can expect from the company?
I think the significance of this is that EMC understands [that] storage management is, in fact, a collection of separate disciplines. Some of these disciplines are related to infrastructure management, while others relate to data management. The Documentum acquisition falls into the data management category. I think what EMC is saying is that, from a storage management software applications perspective, EMC will make both plays going forward [toward] infrastructure and data management. We know EMC has been trying to reinvent itself as a software company. With the acquisition of Documentum, what message is EMC trying to convey to end users about what they can expect from the company?
EMC wants to send a clear message to customers that it is building a strategy to provide the platform, software and services for customers' Information Management strategies.

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These are strategies that focus on the management of content throughout lifecycle of that content. Clearly, enterprises' corporate focus on compliance, risk management, ethics and overall document and content management will drive customer interest and demand. All these new corporate initiatives mandate new approaches to how these strategies are deployed using integrated technologies. And, getting to this nirvana of enterprise-scale information management will take a number of years, as vendors like EMC and others weave together integrated management stacks to handle various elements of the strategy. How does this acquisition change the way storage managers will manage their environment? Traditionally, content management folks and storage folks have not been the same people in an organization, have they?
Good question. No, they are not. EMC sells to infrastructure people; Documentum sells to Line-of-Business managers and corporate counsel. I like the fact that EMC will benefit from being able to go higher and wider in the organization. The more touch points you have as a sales guy, the better off you are. How does this acquisition change the way storage managers will manage their environment? Traditionally, content management folks and storage folks have not been the same people in an organization, have they?
We can't assume that this acquisition will change the way storage managers manage. That's up to EMC to prove. For sure, it will change the way storage managers perceive EMC. And, it will change the way Documentum customers see Documentum. How do you think this acquisition will play out with third-party content management players who have been working with EMC?
I think they are going to lose their minds. EMC will keep Documentum separate, but paranoia is inevitable. They will all hedge their bets with other storage players. It's a price EMC is willing to pay, or they wouldn't have done the deal. How does this acquisition change the way storage managers will manage their environment? Traditionally, content management folks and storage folks have not been the same people in an organization, have they?
In the short term, there's likely not going to be much change. However, over time, it is likely [that] corporate-wide initiatives will drive how content is managed, and storage administrators will be [at the] core [of] these strategies, providing the foundation. To a great extent, everyone reports into the CIO, who holds some responsibility for dealing with some of the short-term content issues, such as compliance (records management) and more long-term issues, such as broader information management strategies. How do you think this acquisition will play out with third-party content management players who have been working with EMC?
It will be a challenge for EMC, but it needs to retain as many of those relationships as possible. If not for new customer deployments, EMC will still need to work with third-party content management tools already deployed in customer sites in the longer term if customers wish to leverage existing investments in these third-party vendors. Do you have any predictions on other vendors possibly moving into the content management space?
Well, I think all of the system vendors will end up having an integration story with content management vendors longer term. It's already happening with a number of them, and stay tuned for more news on this issue. What moves do you anticipate EMC will make to centralize its management strategy given the changes in the number of applications it will now offer?
EMC's traditional management stuff is infrastructure-oriented, so I'm not sure this will change anything, necessarily. How do you think this acquisition will play out with third-party content management players who have been working with EMC?
I think there's an issue here. EMC has chosen to own a piece of this opportunity and compete with both existing and potential partners in this space (FileNet is listed as a Centera partner, for example) rather than go after a pure partnering opportunity. I think this will have a chilling effect on the Centera partner program. What moves do you anticipate EMC will make to centralize its management strategy given the changes in the number of applications it will now offer?
Clearly, EMC has already made significant strides to centralize its management strategy on the infrastructure management side. But it now needs to deliver an uber-management platform that sets up policies on the various elements of content lifecycles. Stay tuned here, because I believe they are headed in this direction over the next couple of years. What moves do you anticipate EMC will make to centralize its management strategy given the changes in the number of applications it will now offer?
The moves have already been made. EMC is chanting the Information Lifecycle Management mantra. That has the net effect of centralizing its management strategy from both the infrastructure and data management perspectives. I think its coming approach to storage fabric-based intelligence will also carry the same theme. What can customers do to prepare for this new focus by EMC?
Nothing. Users should realize that storage for storage['s] sake is useless. It's all about the data. Those users [who] are both EMC and Documentum customers should see benefit: Dealing with one company vs. two. Do you have any predictions on other vendors possibly moving into the content management space?
Of the "Big Iron" storage vendors, IBM is already there. After that, there is potential for STK to go here as well. I don't see HDS here, however. On the other hand, you could think of vendors like Cisco offering intelligent switch platforms for content management apps. What can customers do to prepare for this new focus by EMC?
The new focus is ILM. To prepare for EMC's ILM, as an EMC customer, one must research. Do the due diligence. Ask questions. Understand the philosophy (Yes, ILM is a philosophy, as well as a process, as well as an architecture.) See if the story is coherent. See if it resonates. What can customers do to prepare for this new focus by EMC?
Get educated. Determine your own data classifications and content requirements that take into consideration any document retention requirements, compliance, risk management, as well as how core corporate content is handled. Then determine what requirements are needed going forward and start evaluating vendors on how they can help with this lengthy process. It will take some time - this is a pretty long process, but understanding your core requirements is a good first step. Do you have any predictions on other vendors possibly moving into the content management space?
People forget, but IBM is already in. Via IGS, they have done a ton of work bundling DB2, big iron, disk and their content management software very successfully. Do I think Sun will belly up? No. HP? Probably. You could look for an HP-FileNet acquisition. That would make sense to me. HDS or LSI? I don't think so. I think they are better off being pure-play storage guys.
Related Topics: Storage vendors, VIEW ALL TOPICS

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