EMC Corp.'s ControlCenter storage management software has been at the core of the company's software portfolio for years, but with its latest version, announced Monday, the company has branded ControlCenter the platform for managing heterogeneous storage.
ControlCenter version 5.2 has been beefed up with more centralized device management, monitoring and reporting capabilities for storage from Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett Packard Co. (HP), Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), IBM Corp. and Linux hosts, according to EMC officials.
"This is a major version of ControlCenter, it is easier to use in far more environments," said Dennis Hoffman, vice president of software product marketing for Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC.
ControlCenter now works with popular enterprise management platforms including BMC Software's Patrol, Computer Associates' Unicenter, HP's OpenView and IBM's Tivoli management frameworks. These products can natively issue commands to ControlCenter applications such as EMC Automated Resource Manager (ARM) for automated provisioning of storage resources.
WideSky vs. SMI-S
As part of this announcement, EMC touted its open standards approach towards managing storage products from its competitors. But its path to "openness" has been a little sketchy to say the least. In September, 2003 the company ditched an 18-month project, dubbed WideSky, which aimed to bypass industry standards in favor of its own "universal translator" to connect storage arrays and management applications from different vendors. EMC hoped this would become the de facto industry standard.
Known for its hardware expertise and software that managed EMC products and EMC products only, users were extremely skeptical of how well the WideSky middleware would manage products from other vendors.
Eventually EMC caved in to industry pressure and dumped WideSky, throwing its weight behind the SNIA's standards-based Storage Management Initiative Specification (SMI-S).
Users responded favorably. Zak Zacharia, CEO at BuilderDepot Inc., runs an online home improvement store similar to Lowe's and Home Depot. "Knowing that there is an organization like the SNIA working on standards and interfaces and that something like SMI-S is here, or very soon to be here, gives me peace of mind."
Almost 60% of respondents to a SearchStorage.com poll said that the SMI-S management standard was important to their decision-making process when selecting products in this area.
EMC's key rivals, HP, HDS and IBM offer similar products to manage heterogeneous storage and have supported SMI-S from the beginning.
Storage resource management exploding
EMC said its new ControlCenter software fits into the company's information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy and is important to users from a financial perspective because storage resource management (SRM) software helps reclaim underutilized storage resources instead of buying more capacity.
The latest software numbers from research firm International Data Corp., Framingham, Mass., show that SRM software posted the largest growth in the overall storage software market and EMC leads the pack here. SRM software grew 32.3% in the first quarter of 2004 while the back up and archive software market continued to represent the biggest market segment, growing 22.0% year-over-year.
Bill North, IDC research director for storage software said, "Year-over-year growth was particularly strong in storage resource management, driven by the adoption of software that helps increase operational efficiency and improve storage asset utilization. The data protection markets showed continued strength as well, supporting the increasing requirements for disaster recovery and regulatory compliance capabilities."
ControlCenter 5.2 will be offered to all EMC users who subscribe to the company's maintenance program. The software is compatible with the previous two releases of ControlCenter.