EMC Unveils Automated Information Storage Strategy

Company takes 'transformational, innovative leap' but admits much work still needs to be done.

NEW YORK—Executives of data storage leader EMC Corp. officially announced the main software components of their Automated Information Storage strategy here Monday.

But while outlining the initiative, they also admitted that much work still needs to be done in third-party application integration and in sales to non-EMC hardware users.

"This is truly a transformational, innovative leap that EMC has taken. Were putting rings on a tree as it ages, and adding substance and strength," CEO and President Joe Tucci said during a press and analyst conference here.

The new components—WideSky, a middleware layer; Control Center/Open Edition, an application integration tool; Control Center/Storage Scope; a reporting tool; and Control Center/Replication Manager, for data and disk replication—together represent the Hopkinton, Mass., companys first foray as an independent software vendor.

"Its more like a machine gun full of silver bullets. You can certainly apply this to a non-EMC set," Chief Technology Officer Jim Rothnie said, explaining how the software will run on competitors storage, even when no EMC hardware is present.

The key differentiators of AutoIS software, he said, are having a common data repository between the management tools and the storage, and having a common user interface.

"Over time, there will be scores of these [third-party application] plug-ins available," he said.

Examples of those are APIs for databases, file systems, logical volume managers, auto-pathing, connectivity and host-bus adapters. The initial APIs cover EMCs own high-end Symmetrix and low-to-midrange Clariion storage systems, plus EMCs network-attached storage products and partial control of its rivals storage, from companies like Compaq Computer Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and IBM.

EMC also will have a direct sales staff to sell AutoIS software, Tucci said. In the near future, the company will also announce a combination of hardware and software to handle more tasks of storage virtualization, or the ability to view disparate storage devices as a single pool, Tucci said in an interview last week.

Analysts reactions were initially optimistic.

"Complexity and intelligence and margin are moving into the network. EMC has a possible large advantage here," said Tom Kraemer, enterprise hardware analyst of Merrill Lynch, in New York.