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EMC on Veritas' heels with launch of storage management software

EMC's attempt to offer storage management software and service to its competitors' customers has put it on a collision course with storage software leader Veritas.

Competition is heating up in the storage management race.

EMC Corp., began its push into the world of storage management on Monday with the launch of its AutoIS storage management strategy, a new set of products and services that the storage giant said can manage not only its own storage systems, but systems from competitors such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems and Sun Microsystems.

The Hopkinton-based company is betting this strategy, which represents the largest single research and development effort in EMC's history, will drive revenue growth.

EMC announced earlier this year that it would put 75% of its research and development budget -- roughly $750 million -- into developing its automation software and growing its services organization.

EMC is eyeing a business model with about 30% of its revenue coming from software and approximately 20% from services in 2003. During the most recent quarter, software and services represented 25% and 11%, respectively, of EMC's total revenue, the company said.

The new products include ContolCenter Open Edition, Replication Manager, StorageScope, and Common Array Manger. All four software products are controlled by a middleware application called WideSky. WideSky is able to manage storage hardware and software from both EMC and its competitors.

"What EMC is trying to do is to make EMC ContolCenter the console from which the entire storage universe will be managed," said Arun Taneja, senior analyst for the Enterprise Storage Group.

The difference from yesterday, said Taneja, is that ECC, which always managed the EMC world only, will now manage competitor's hardware and software products.

Taneja said the software under the AutoIS blanket will appeal to EMC's enterprise customers.

EMC's new software products can manage hardware from competitors like IBM and Hitachi Data Systems. And EMC said users running big environments with multiple boxes, including EMC's hardware, can now use EMC's management products to handle all of their storage, regardless of manufacturer.

But the drawback to managing multi-vendor storage under AutoIS is that while it can manage competitor's hardware, it doesn't manage it as well as the software originally designed for it. For example, EMC won't manage Shark better than IBM. Upshot: The products under AutoIS can simplify enterprise storage environments by managing all the hardware, but some features get lost in the translation.

But try as they may, there is no guarantee that EMC's quest to rise to the top of the storage management heap will end in victory.

"Whether [AutoIS] is sufficient for EMC to maintain a stranglehold is not clear to me yet, Taneja said. He said that the key to EMC's future may be as a solutions player that supports more than its own technologies. "Nevertheless, I think it still puts them on a direct collision path with Veritas," he said.

From a distance, he said, EMC is taking steps in the right direction. "But panacea for the IT administrator they are not. At least until we see meat on the bones of these concepts," said Taneja.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, assistant news editor


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Mark Lewis spent a fair amount of time commenting on EMC and its storage strategy when he was head of storage at Compaq and later Hewlett-Packard. Now that he's in the EMC camp as the company's chief technology officer, he admits his position has changed -- but he says his position has shifted only because the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company's direction has changed.

EMC has continued its quest for the brass ring in storage management with its "Chapter Two" announcement regarding AutoIS last week. The company unleashed eight new or newly beefed-up software tools for storage management last week, most of which included management support for storage arrays from competing vendors.

Lewis sat down with prior to the announcement to explain how he sees this new strategy of cooperation playing out.

Q&A: EMC's Gahagan focuses on storage management

EMC's hardly ever introduced anything that hasn't come under fire, but its open software initiative, AutoIS, has come under extreme scrutiny ever since it was introduced in October of last year. To sum it up, critics say it lacks substance and makes a mockery out of open standards. But, Chris Gahagan, EMC's recently appointed senior vice president of Storage Infrastructure Software defends his company's software strategy and says critics can criticize all they want. He's heard it all before and it's their claims that have no substance.

As the traditional storage hardware company pushes aggressively in the software storage management arena, Gahagan, formerly of BMC Software, was brought on to oversee the development of EMC's storage infrastructure software, a critical component of EMC's open storage software development efforts and part of the AutoIS strategy. Gahagan reports to Erez Ofer, EMC's executive vice president of Open Software Operations.

EMC's Open Software Operations is one of EMC's three major operating units and includes the software portfolio in support of the AutoIS initiative, such as EMC ControlCenter/Open Edition and other management software programs, as well as the recently introduced WideSky initiative and open connectivity programs. AutoIS is designed to provide management technologies and heterogeneous storage applications necessary to make storage management automated, simple and open.

Here Gahagan talks to SearchStorage about his priorities and how he believes those priorities will stop critics in their tracks.

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