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EMC tight-lipped on Centera plans

EMC snapped up Storigen to round out Centera. But what was Centera lacking?

When learned that EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass., had acquired technology from Storigen Systems Inc., many questions emerged -- about what was acquired and how the technology will fit into EMC's product road map. And it seems those questions will remain unanswered for a while.

EMC has still not officially announced the acquisition, and the company remains tight-lipped both about the technology it acquired from Storigen and its motivations for making the deal. What is certain is that EMC was selling an application gateway that Storigen had built specifically for use with the Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) system.

Roy Sanford, vice president of content-addressed storage for EMC said, "EMC hasn't publicly announced [the acquisition], so there's not much I can say about what we did or didn't get."

But Sanford did say that EMC gives away an application programming interface (API) to partners and customers who want to port software applications to Centera. But the company opened the system up to application gateways to accommodate users that "prefer to use standard storage connection techniques and still leverage CAS on the back end."

But the technology has its upside. Centera's write once, read many (WORM) disk capabilities let it handle the demands of new compliance regulations. For example, Centera uses integrated hardware and software codes to leverage rewritable disk, making the data stored there unalterable. Centera is natively integrated with most applications, but not with older versions of the same software. That's where Storigen's Centera Application Gateway comes in.

The Storigen gateway is aimed at customers who run legacy fixed-content management applications as it bridges the language barrier by presenting NFS or CIFS on one side and Centera's language on the other, effectively fooling applications into thinking they are writing to a filer or NAS head.

Storigen doesn't hold the only keys to the CAS city. Sanford said "there are eight or nine application gateways available now. It's not a new technology." FileTek, StorageSwitch, IXOS, KVS, Legato and Documentum are among several vendors offering application gateways for Centera.

Sanford would not disclose details as to whether EMC would integrate Storigen's technology and embed it inside Centera. Sanford said simply EMC would "continue to look for ways to open this technology up to customers."

So what prompted EMC to buy Storigen's technology? According to Peter Gerr, a research analyst with the Milford, Mass.-based Enterprise Storage Group, it's about protecting different types of fixed content. "In addition to allowing users to use their custom and legacy applications with Centera, it also allows users to consolidate fixed content from remote branch offices and from different sources across WAN-IP links and use the Centera as an online, active archive," Gerr said. "It's not just for compliance purposes, but for protecting non-compliance-related fixed content."


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