Feature

EMC unveils service oriented vision

Having acquired virtualisation, data management and security tools, EMC is integrating them into its core storage platform to produce a new breed of system.

EMC is to release a new breed of system and information management tools. However, it needs to carry out extensive integration first.

The storage supplier has gone through a highly acquisitive stage where it bought in virtualisation, data management and security technologies, adding these to its core storage platform.

The result will be a product line that will rely on simpler virtualised IT systems and reach deeper into the application stack, giving users simpler IT management and more automation and control.

EMC is still open to more technology acquisitions if they fit into its strategy, said Adrian McDonald, vice-president and general manager, UK & Ireland, at EMC. “The customers are interested in a more joined-up product line,” he added.

At the root of that strategy is a desire to become the central supplier for what the company calls “the information layer”.

EMC’s aim is to help users manage their data more intelligently and provide innovation and professional services, said McDonald.

Galen Schreck, senior analyst at Forrester Research, said, “EMC has laid out its vision of an infrastructure built on virtualised hardware resources that will run the next generation of service-oriented applications.”

The acquired technologies cover storage and information, with Legato and Documentum respectively. EMC has also added virtualisation (VMware), virtualisation automation (Akimbi), end-to-end service monitoring (Smarts), datacentre management (Layers), and security and policy management (RSA). RSA is the only acquisition that has not been finalised yet.

“EMC now has all the ingredients for a software portfolio that neatly parallels its vision of a service oriented infrastructure,” said Schreck.

As a result, EMC will eventually offer users an alternative to systems management tools from the likes of BMC, HP and IBM.

However, EMC has not yet integrated RSA security technology, and the virtualisation automation technology from Akimbi currently serves test and not production environments. Schreck estimated it would take EMC a minimum of two years to integrate the components it had acquired.

“EMC will need to centralise its configuration data and work on ways to simplify and automate the process of building complete services that span storage, servers, and applications,” he said.

Meanwhile, EMC needs to use RSA to unify security and policy management across its product line, from hardware like the Centera to Documentum’s document management in order to provide users with the ability to secure their data using RSA’s identity, access management and key encryption software.

EMC’s information management strategy has been given the thumbs-up from users, but better product integration is needed.

The Open University is one major user that has implemented multiple EMC brands, including Storage (San discs and Centera Content Addressed Storage), Legato Networker software, and DiscXtender and EmailXtender, which it is yet to use. The university is also a long-term user of VMware virtualisation and RSA security tokens.

It uses Documentum Content Server 5.3, for which it has 600,000 licences. It is also in the design phase for eRooms Enterprise 7.2, an online collaboration platform, which it plans to roll out in October or November to 5,000 internal staff.

Jed Cawthorne, enterprise content management programme manager at the Open University, said the products “appear to be reasonably well integrated, but getting better all the time.” For example, the university is currently investigating swapping its EMC EmailXtender licences for the newly integrated Documentum Archiving for Email.

Competitive upgrades are available. EMC offered the university a competitive trade-in to swap its Sun Microsystems fibre channel discs for EMC San storage.

Cawthorne said his main concern was “the speed with which the [product integration] process can be executed. All businesses that go on buying sprees then have to contend with integrating their new acquisitions.

“This is by no means unique to EMC. Thus it will be interesting to watch how quickly they bring Captiva, RSA and other recent acquisitions fully on board.”

WHSmith News is also an EMC and VMware user, with a mixture of DMX-2000s, Clariion CX700s, the EMC Nas Gateway, NS700G and EMC/Brocade switches, as well as EMC Legato Networker. It also uses both of VMware’s virtualisation platforms, ESX and GSX.

Robert Wilson, CTO at WHSmith News, said the firm uses EMC ControlCenter to monitor and control the storage components within the datacentre.

It uses the Clariion and DMX storage systems and Legato software to form its information lifecycle management system.

It has a purchasing agreement called EMC Openscale, which enables it to increase disc capacity at a known cost when required. Wilson said EMC needed to continue to focus on its core storage technology.

“With EMC’s recent forays down the acquisition route, and their appetite to expand their software portfolio, repositioning themselves as information providers, EMC should not take their eye off their core competency as a primary storage vendor,” he said.

 

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This was first published in September 2006

 

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