Is EMC Really a Software Vendor?

With recent events such as EMC's purchase of BMC Patrol Storage Manager and the ongoing purchase of Legato, it's time to revisit this issue.

Its been a few years since I asked myself this question. However, as recent events such as EMCs purchase of BMC Patrol Storage Manager and the ongoing purchase of Legato show, its time to revisit this issue.

The easy answer is "yes." EMC, with its Control Center Suite has created a solid storage management platform, and with the addition of the technology in BMCs abandoned storage management suite, Control Center could get a boost in functionality.

The conflict over Legato (whose shareholders are going to court to prevent its purchasing by EMC) is a speed bump in EMCs progress, but overall it still stands as proof that EMC wants to be a legitimate software vendor and not just a hardware company that sells software on the side.

When EMC first announced it would become a software vendor, a couple of Corporate Partners and I greeted the news with a fair amount of disbelief.

From our point of view, the scary thing about EMC selling software was that the company might use it as a bait-and-switch tool to sneak into IT shops that had accounts with competitors (like Hitachi Data Systems and IBM) and try to convince them to switch to EMC storage systems.

The current spate of acquisitions could be seen two ways. On the one hand, the acquisition of Legato gives EMC a proven enterprise-class backup software package, which is something every storage software vendor needs to sell an end-to-end solution.

The more cynical way of looking at it is that EMC wants to get ahold of Legatos customer base and its resale channel to force-feed EMC arrays to customers.

I believe the first reason is the real cause of EMCs recent actions, but the company has to do one more thing to prove it has no hidden hardware agenda, as competitors claim.

Specifically, EMC software needs to be able to manage the arrays of competitors just as well as its own hardware solutions.

If Control Centers mastery over competitors like IBMs Shark and HDS Freedom 9980 becomes equal to its management of its own Clariion and Symmetrix systems, we can finally put to rest the whole notion of the hidden hardware agenda.

Acquisitions can fill gaps in the functionality/features charts, but its the holes in the interoperability matrix that need to be plugged in order to own the storage software market.

Would you buy EMC software to manage a non-EMC SAN? Write to me at