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EMC acquires ITIL startup Voyence

EMC will integrate Voyence's network configuration and change management software with ECC and Smarts to create al data center management framework.

EMC Corp. today acquired startup Voyence Inc. for an undisclosed price to enhance its network change management capabilities around the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard.

Bob Quillin, EMC's senior director of product marketing for the resource management software group (RMSG), said EMC picked up Voyence to create a data center management framework based on ITIL. The framework will bring together storage through EMC Control Center (ECC) and networking through Smarts and Voyence. The Richardson, Tex.-based startup's VoyenceControl software is based on ITIL.

EMC will continue to sell VoyenceControl as a standalone product, as well as integrate it with Smarts. As part of a pre-existing partnership, Smarts recognizes network configuration change events detected by VoyenceControl as a way to help customers try to resolve network misconfigurations.

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"The most likely direct competitor for this is IBM's TotalStorage Productivity Center," said Andrew Reichman, an analyst with Forrester Research. Last week, IBM made its own move in the management software space by acquiring NovusCG, a storage resource monitoring and reporting tool, in order to beef up its newly announced System Storage Productivity Center (SSPC). SSPC will be the first cross-product management GUI for IBM.

IBM and EMC will also have to compete with Hewlett-Packard Co.'s (HP) planned data center management framework from Opsware Inc., which HP acquired in July for $1.6 billion. Opsware recently announced its storage management module based on technology acquired from CreekPath Systems .

EMC, meanwhile, is missing the opposite piece. "We already have deep configuration and change management on the storage side through ECC," Quillin said. "We're now trying to align that on the network side to avoid configuration drift."

Quillin said the reason that storage vendors have started emphasizing monitoring and management tools is because of the maturing market for systems. "It used to be users spent a lot of time detecting failures and dealing with individual problems," he said. "Part of the maturity of new storage products, which have become more redundant and resilient, is that there's less focus around plumbing. IT is being evaluated now on the end-to-end support they can provide the business."

According to Reichman, "Storage is continuing to commoditize -- the big differentiator for storage vendors now will be how you use it." Large vendors are adding data center management tools to provide the end-to-end support that users can't get from their smaller competitors, the same companies that beat the big guys to the punch with technologies such as MAID, data deduplication and WAN optimization. Large companies like EMC, IBM and HP "have to differentiate themselves now as having a more complete solution, including hardware, software and professional services," Reichman said.

But acquisitions also provide integration challenges for these large vendors. Over the past year EMC has been trying to integrate more than 20 other acquisitions, including the massive $2.1 billion buyout of RSA Security Inc. But in that time, it has lost some business to newer, simpler offerings due to a confusing and poorly integrated menu of backup, replication and data archiving products currently in its portfolio.

At a user event in September, EMC revealed plans for a new universal data backup and archiving appliance that would consolidate the capabilities of its NetWorker, DiskXtender, EmailXtender, Centera, Backup Advisor and Avamar products, among others, into a single product.

Quillin declined to say whether or not the eventual integration between Voyence and ECC will mean similar consolidation or a linking of products that remain separate, but said EMC felt that yet another acquisition was unavoidable.

"The expectations have risen," he said. "The whole market is trying to lead the next wave of integration and unification in the data center, and it's a market imperative that we bring together different domains [of IT] into a common management platform."

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