EMC Gains Smarts to Improve SAN Troubleshooting

Updated: By purchasing Smarts, EMC gains technology for improving the troubleshooting of faults across storage area networks.

The acquisitive EMC Corp. on Tuesday snatched up another software provider—this time in the network systems management space—with its agreement to acquire System management ARTS Inc., or Smarts.

The Hopkinton, Mass., storage provider will pony up $260 million in cash for Smarts, which provides event automation and root-cause analysis for faults across networks, servers and applications.

EMC intends to leverage Smarts technology to provide improved troubleshooting of faults across SANs (storage area networks), and it intends to use its significant bulk to build the Smarts root-cause analysis business beyond the roughly $60 million in annual revenues it now generates.

Smarts flagship InCharge line uses the White Plains, N.Y., companys patented codebook correlation technology to automatically find the root cause of performance or availability problems and can determine their impact across technology silos.

/zimages/4/28571.gifSmarts delves into the emerging area of IP multicast with new monitoring and managing tools. Click here to read more.

EMC views its Smarts acquisition as strategic to its ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) initiative because of the Smarts technology, said Mark Lewis, executive vice president of EMC Software.

"The core modeling language technology that allows you to input basic network characteristics—and their codebook correlation technology that allows you do basic diagnosis from a series of symptoms—is very foundational for what we do," Lewis said. "We will extend that into storage and storage networking."

The technology also sits at the confluence of the merging storage networking and data networking markets, EMC believes.

"We needed this correlation technology for storage management to make more complex storage networks simpler for customers," Lewis said. "Smarts has an excellent business in the network systems management area. With storage networking and data networking, we view those as highly complementary."

Smarts, which has been on a 20 percent to 25 percent growth path, had weighed the option of going public. But Smarts Founder and CEO Shaula Alexander Yemini said she thinks EMCs strategic vision is a good fit for Smarts.

"Their vision is that management is becoming more and more important, has become increasingly complex and heterogeneous and dynamic," Alexander Yemini said.

"They have a very strong appreciation for how complex management is, how important the automation of management is, and how our unique dynamic modeling and correlation technologies can give them serious competitive advantage as they move into the management space."

Once the acquisition is completed, which is expected in the first quarter of this year, EMCs first product integration effort will likely focus on developing storage network management from Smarts technology. That will fill out Smarts Application Services Management Suite, which EMC will continue to market.

"Once we add in the storage, our ASM product line will have the storage, server, network and application response time pieces. From our perspective, this is making the ASM product line more complete," said Alexander Yemini, who will take a position in EMCs overall office as chief technology officer.

The next step beyond storage network management is expected to focus on management of EMCs Documentum content management software, and the longer-term goal is to embed management within EMC high-end storage networking products, Alexander Yemini said. "We could do an InCharge Inside self-healing component," she said.

EMC intends to maintain a specialized sales force knowledgeable in Smarts existing market as well as to maintain engineering at Smarts White Plains facility. Smarts will become part of EMCs growing software group, which is estimated to be a $2.7 billion software business.

That growth is largely due to EMCs software shopping spree. In the past 18 months, EMC has spent about $4 billion on nine acquisitions, including backup provider Legato, content-management provider Documentum and processor virtualization vendor VMware Inc.

Although Smarts officials claimed that its customers will continue to receive the same level of service and will benefit from the broader, global reach of EMC, at least one analyst was skeptical of such claims.

"Smarts customers should be on the lookout for changes and be aware of whats going on," said Elisabeth Rainge, director of network management at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass.

EMCs Lewis reaffirmed the companys intent to partner with industry leaders and best of breed, but the move could put them into competition with management framework providers such as BMC Software, IBM/Tivoli, Hewlett-Packard Co. with its OpenView or Computer Associates International Inc. with its Unicenter, according to Rich Ptak, principal at Ptak, Noel & Associates in Amherst, N.H.

"A major challenge will be to keep from stepping on the toes of their infrastructure management solutions provider partners," Ptak said.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from EMC and Smarts executives.

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