EMC Corp. on Monday launched software products that will allow users to control the storage systems of competing companies.

The products are the first releases in the Hopkinton, Mass-based company’s Automated Information Storage (AutoIS) strategy, and they include:

  • EMC ControlCenter/Open Edition (ECC/Open Edition) centralizes the management of storage infrastructure for storage allocation, monitoring, data protection, performance management and administration.

  • WideSky is a middleware technology that manages EMC and Non-EMC storage systems, network devices and host storage resources.

  • EMC Replication Manager automates disk-based replication for data recovery, repurposing and and life cycle management.

  • EMC StorageScope automates the collection, analysis and reporting of data and creates real-time and historical reports of storage allocation, usage and configuration details.

According to EMC, the initial release of ECC/Open Edition supports storage systems from Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, IBM, SUN and Network.

Jim Rothnie, EMC senior vice-president and chief technology officer, said there is a two-fold benefit to the strategy.

“The role of AutoIS is to use software to automate key tasks that our customers are currently doing with human beings and thereby lower their costs and reduce their errors,” he said at the launch in NewYork.

“This is a consequence of the 1,000 islands of information each with their own ad hoc method of configuration and allocation and backup and disaster recovery and on and on. Customers hate this environment because it is expensive and error prone.”

Rothnie said the amount of stored data continues to grow at a tremendous rate despite soft economic times and the need for data to be available 24/7 is bad news for taped-based backup solutions. The fastest tape solutions restore data at 100 GB an hour, he said, so replacing a terabyte would take 10 hours.

“What customers do require is the capability to get back on the air with essential no delay regardless of how much data is involved,” said Rothnie.

EMC president and CEO Joe Tucci compared AutoIS to an ERP system. He said an ERP system automates, standardizes and managing the order-to-cash operations and allows the CFO to view and get reports on any step in the process. AutoIS, he said, is the storage resource equivalent for CIOs.

Tony Prigmore, a senior analyst with Milford, Mass.-based The Enterprise Storage Group, Inc., said storage customers don’t have a utilization problem, they have a disparity of utilization.

“Every EMC client has non-EMC stuff somewhere (and) the vast majority of them would prefer to have a single common framework,” Prigmore said.” What the common framework does is it helps take away the disparity of utilization that exists between NT, Unix and mainframe environments.”

Prigmore warned users won’t see a return on investment in a matter of days. He said it lowers the management cost of storage, but it takes time for the knowledge transfer.

“They have to have EMC professional services in, deploy, train their staff so that then they become masters of their own universe,” said Prigmore. “As long as the clients are committed to that process — that initial deployment and knowledge transfer process–they will gain enormous cost of ownership advantages.”

While storage vendors are selling the projected capacity for the year, price per megabyte has been free falling cutting into margins. EMC has not been immune to tough times. On Oct. 17 it posted a US$945 million loss and said it would eliminate 4,000 jobs.

EMC turned to Dell in late October for help. Dell has agreed to discontinue its storage area network products in return for the right to resell EMC’s Clariion and Symmetrix storage systems.

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