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Ruettgers defends EMC-led management standards push

EMC has stepped up its AutoIS software strategy, but there are some doubts that the storage goliath can get the necessary backing to achieve de facto standard status.

CHICAGO -- EMC Corp., has taken the next step in its quest to establish standards in storage management and -- willing or not - it wants to bring its competitors along.

Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC's Chairman Michael Ruettgers told an audience of more than 800 storage and IT managers here on Wednesday during the Storage Management conference, that a management standard can be developed quickly only if the users pressure EMC's competition to join its Developers Program.

"We don't see this as proprietary, but our competitors will call it that," said Ruettgers.

"It's important to have standards in the industry as quickly as you can," said Ruettgers. "Once you get standards set it benefits the customer."

Jeff Caldwell, director of systems storage and planning for the Chicago Board Options Exchange, has plans to implement a SAN this June and has found management tools, including EMC's, unable to help his storage systems talk to each other in his heterogeneous environment.

"Things like WideSky are still in their infancy. There's still a maturity process that these products have to go through," said Caldwell. "A lot of vendors focus on being first to market rather than best to market."

Jamie Gruener, industry analyst for the Boston-based Yankee Group, said there's a long way to go before the promise of WideSky is a reality.

"The customers think that AutoIS is here today -- it's not," said Gruener.

More hardware vendors need to get on board with EMC before any real progress can be made, he said.

A slew of software companies are supporting the WideSky initiative including: BMC Software Inc., Brocade Communications Systems Inc., Citrix Systems Inc., CommVault Systems Inc., Computer Associates Inc., Legato Systems Inc., McData Corp., Microsoft Corp., Novell Inc., Oracle Corp., Precise Software Solutions Inc., QLogic Corp., Quest Software, SAP, SAS and Sybase Inc.

But EMC has had less success recruiting companies to work on the back-end of WideSky. Compaq is lone hardware maker to join the Developers Program, but Ruettgers said EMC is "in talks" with all of the other major hardware players.

EMC's new WideSky Developers Suite includes interfaces to its WideSky middleware. As part of the suite, available through the expanded EMC Developers Program, EMC debuted the WideSky SRM (Storage Resource Management) interface, which it said lets software providers incorporate a wide range of storage management functions into their products.

It remains to be seen whether EMC will plant its WideSky flag as a management standard. Many experts and analysts, like Gruener, believe that in the long-term EMC will have to put the work in the hands of a standards body like the Storage Networking Industry Association.

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.

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