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SD2002: Tucci on APIs: I'll show you mine if you show me yours

Tucci on APIs: I'll show you mine if you show me yours

CHICAGO -- EMC's tough-talking CEO and president, Joe Tucci, stood by his claim that his company is a leader in API sharing and is all for promoting open systems. But some users and analysts here at the Storage Decisions 2002 user conference said they don't believe Tucci is being entirely forthcoming.

Tucci addressed the issue of making APIs (application programming interfaces) public Wednesday. The swapping of APIs has been a hot issue among attendees at the conference, where discussion has been fueled by announcements by Hewlett-Packard and EMC about new storage management tools that support other major vendors, thanks in part to API sharing.

"We're openly willing to trade," Tucci told the audience. "But if we're the only one to throw [our APIs]; in the pot, that's not good." He added later that as an industry leader, everyone wants EMC APIs and that his company ends up giving more than it gets. Tucci said that makes the situation unfair to EMC.

Tucci told users that if they want other companies to come on board they need to demand it from their current vendors.

"Good things are going to come from this and you can help by insisting on it," Tucci said.

Some users said they found Tucci's comments laughable given the fact that EMC has a reputation for being proprietary, and that any API sharing that's going on isn't deep enough to make a difference in their shops.

"There's not really a lot of swapping going on," said Lawrence Reeder, senior procurement consultant, Allstate Insurance, Northbrook, Ill. "It seems like it, but they're only taking it so far."

Reeder said that while API swapping is a good thing, the vendors are only confusing the situation because they're swapping APIs only for certain functions. "Once you get to a certain level, the compatibility stops," he said.

EMC has made a number of deals to swap APIs with major industry vendors, including Brocade and Hewlett-Packard. EMC also supports the theory of reverse engineering, which essentially means that the company does less API deal-cutting with rivals. With reverse engineering, EMC just figures out the interfaces on its own, a practice that has been criticized by a number of vendors, including HP.

HP announced Tuesday the new version of its OpenView Storage Area Manager, which includes support for EMC hardware, as well as support for Compaq, IBM and Hitachi products.

Still, users and analysts here were dismayed, although not surprised, that EMC's own announcement Wednesday of new management tools that include support for other vendors devices can actually only manage some, but not all functions of storage arrays from other vendors.

Steve Duplessie, founder and senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc., Milford, Mass., said this is an "excellent first step," but that the true power of multi-vendor management software will come when EMC can really drill down into other vendors' hardware.

Senior Analyst Jamie Gruener of the Boston-based Yankee Group, said API sharing is a two-way street and that EMC's position on API sharing sounds like a "spoiled child."

"I'm not saying its position is unfounded," Gruener said. "It's just that there's enough confusion that this back and forth with APIs doesn't help."

For more information

SD2002: Charging internal users for storage gains momentum

SD2002: EMC offers tool for automating storage provisioning

Brocade releases API to EMC, Hitachi, Fujitsu

EMC, HP trade APIs for interoperability

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