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EMC, HP trade APIs for interoperability

Open up and say API. EMC and HP have penned a pact to trade application programming interfaces. The deal will give the two companies the ability to manage each other's respective storage arrays.

EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., and Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif., two of the largest storage vendors on the playing field, have entered a cross-licensing deal that will let HP's software manage EMC's storage arrays, and vice versa.

In a joint press release, EMC and HP stated that this kind of technology exchange can serve as a model for agreements with other companies and as a catalyst for solving interoperability problems.

Under the terms of the swap, EMC is licensing APIs to support discovery and control functions of its Symmetrix and Clariion storage systems. HP is licensing APIs to support discovery and control functions of the HP StorageWorks Virtual Array (VA) systems and the HP StorageWorks XP systems.

Specifically, EMC will use HP's APIs in EMC ControlCenter, SAN Manager, the StorageScope SRM and its Enterprise Replication Manager. HP will integrate EMC's APIs in its storage area management (SAM) product family, including OpenSAN Manager, Network View and the OpenView Storage Manager.

"The conclusion that we've drawn is that you have to take advantages of all capabilities. That means cooperation, standards and support," said Don Swatik, vice president of alliances and information sciences for EMC. "We realize that waiting for standards is waiting too long."

One analyst said this deal represents an about face for HP.

"Originally, Compaq went out of its way to say that their initial API swap was not part of EMC's WideSky initiative. This API swap includes an agreement for WideSky by HP," said John Webster, senior analyst and founder of the Data Mobility Group Inc., Nashua, N.H.

The deal begs the question: What about HP's existing agreement with Hitachi Data Systems? HP resells Hitachi's high-end lighting storage systems under the HP brand.

Webster said the agreement applies to HP's APIs and HP versions of its underlying Hitachi boxes only. It does not extend to Hitachi, HDS or Sun.

However, Webster added, EMC has stated in the past that it would reverse engineer its competitors APIs for inclusion into WideSky.

"EMC may now be able to get enough to reverse engineer API's to the SUN and HDS versions of the base machine without agreements from Sun or HDS that would otherwise facilitate this process," he said.

EMC estimates that its technology coupled with that of the newly merged HP, represented more than a 50% of the overall external RAID market share for 2001.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst for Milford Mass.-based, Enterprise Storage Group Inc., said that the deal gives end users more options when it comes to managing storage.

But, he said, there are other issues at hand.

"The more serious implications are that one of the big dogs, HP, has crossed the imaginary line in the sand and joined the arch-enemies movement. I think it's smart," he said.

"There has been a very long standing desire for users to manage storage irrespective of manufacturer. To date that has been difficult due to immaturity of standards in the SAN space today," said HP's Mark Sorenson, vice president of Storage Software division.

Sorenson said that until storage management standards like the Common Information Management Model (CIM) are ratified and deployed, APIs are a stopgap.

"Until then, today, the more intimate method of utilizing each corporation's APIs to drive interoperability is the way that we will go. I expect both Corp's to move to the standards as they proliferate," said Sorenson.

Let us know what you think about the story, e-mail Kevin Komiega, News Writer


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