: The Hardware Side"> On the hardware side, Lewis discussed the future of commoditization, IP storage and networking, all areas hes tasked with planning for. EMCs most important next hardware launch, Symmetrix 6, was planned before he arrived. Robert Gray, an analyst with International Data Corp., said he has mixed feelings about EMCs software vision."Ive seldom found storage customers who didnt get what they want taken care of," he noted, referring to EMCs reputation of having excellent customer service. Regarding EMC and hardware, Gray said: "Heres what you can expect: Back in their labs, they will set a little team of engineers together ... to run Symmetrix with Serial ATA [drives], and theyll experiment, and theyll do it with the first set of Serial ATA drives they can get their hands on. Will they talk about what theyre doing in the experimental labs? Not to me, but Im 100 percent certain theyre doing that, because theyre smart." Regarding commoditization, EMC already uses general-purpose chips, drives and processors in its arrays, Lewis said. Drives that use the ATA (Advanced Technology Attachment) interface, which are cheaper but less reliable, will likely reduce tape archiving "more and more to a tertiary environment," he said. "It is now outpacing many tape library technologies in cost-per-megabyte. Strategically, we see more and more recovery moving to disk." Using ATA drives in higher-end hardware, like Symmetrix, is still years from being a reasonable consideration, unlike with Centera, he said. If EMC or a rival does use ATA drives, "we expect for the near-future, [it] will still require a good deal of engineering to get the full robustness," with designs for a bus structure, caching and fault-tolerance, Lewis said. "Just because you have ATA drives doesnt mean well put them in JBOD [the industry term for just a bunch of disks] configurations," he said. While third parties continue to roll out specialty products using Centera, "my impression is itll remain a very segmented product for quite some time," he said. In networking, "Fibre Channel will be with us for a long, long time. We still have so many inherent differences between how LANs and WANs want to move data," Lewis said. Real-time storage will be plagued by IPs random packeting and high error tolerance rates. But applications like replication are already becoming IP storages sweet spot, as its acceptable time delay gives the IP network time to keep up efficiencies, he said. "iSCSI will play a role in entry-level networks and what we call stranded servers," Lewis said. EMC also is competing against the plans of storage switch makers, like Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and McData Corp., and, more recently, against networking giant Cisco Systems Inc. "Theres certain features over time that have a good fit within the network," Lewis said, but EMC plans to offer them directly. Examples are provisioning and virtualization, he said. However, Lewis declined to explain the relationship between those examples and next weeks AutoIS news. "Just because the network comes in doesnt mean we wont sell an awful lot of software," he said. Lewis would not comment on EMCs planned investment in spin-off Diligent Technologies Corp., which is not yet finalized. Diligents products, according to sources, will be SRM, tape virtualization and backup/recovery acceleration. Next weeks announcement covers SRM and backup acceleration, but do not yet involve Diligent, sources said. (Editors note: This story has been edited to include the comments from Robert Gray of International Data Corp.)
"No top-share supplier ever finds an awful lot of motivation to make it easy for the second-tier competitors to plug them, to be compatible," he said. However, "over the last 18 months Ive seen actual changes" in the companys attempts to listen to customers.