COMMENTARY: What EMC didn’t say at ‘Inform’

EMC's Inform event hit Sydney yesterday. But what did it really mean for storage professionals?

EMC Inform has long been the company's showcase for business which means that the word "˜Symmetrix' is less important than phrases like "˜Information Lifecycle Management.' The Symmetrix, after all, is a mere technology, a building block in the great pyramid that is business process.

And so it proved yesterday (May 15th) at the Sydney incarnation of the event, as the company told how it now aims to transform data into information.

The idea is pretty simple: with an application of metadata, you can start to understand what kind of data you have. Then you can start to do other clever things like apply policy-based security (thanks, RSA) or automate ILM. Add some virtualisation and you can even do this all on the fly. So if you're about to get sued, just search on the metadata for all documents and emails related to the "˜Pensky File' and whip up (thanks, VMware) a nice fast (thanks, Clariion) virtual disk array for them and get to work using a content management (thanks, Documentem) system that pushes workflow to your team so no-one misses a beat.

All the while, the company hopes, that metadata means that the thousands of files and emails know how to re-assign themselves to their ILM niches when it's all over.

EMC is pretty chuffed about all this, and fair enough. It's a big stack of technology and when it works we don't doubt the results are awesome.

We're not entirely certain if the company's line about customers wanting this kind of one-stop-shop is entirely true. (Feel free to let us know what you think. Nor were we terribly convinced when Dimension Data was advanced as the ultimate example of a partner that can make all of EMC's stack sing, thanks to its possession of all the varied skills required to understand how to get the stack interoperating and expressing process.

It's not that we doubt Dimension Data's powers. It's just that when a vendor says they've got the best approach to the market and their partners make that possible, we naturally get a little twitchy because are things ever really that perfect, after all?

More interesting to us is just the uses to which EMC's stack can be put to means for storage professionals.

We asked RSA's Chief Strategy Officer, Vice-President and General Manager for Data Security Dennis Hoffman about this and he said that so far as he is concerned, dialog between the business and storage professionals about how to use EMC's stack just isn't happening all that often.

"I go to meetings where the Chief Security Officer and the Storage Manager meet for the first time," he said.

That reminded us of a conversation we had with EMC Australia General Manager David Webster a couple of weeks back in which we asked him how storage professionals are coming to terms with EMC's stack. Websters answer was that EMC education and outreach was awakening them to the possibilities and helping them to spread the word to the business.

We wonder, though, what else EMC is saying to storage pros. yesterday, for example, we learned that the company intends to unveil a new version of its Control Centre software.

Control Centre is, for those who don't use it, the management software for EMC's Symmetrix arrays. The press release about the new release made it into the press kits we were given at Inform.

But nobody mentioned the new software in the three bits of the event we attended.

Can what they don't tell you can reveal what they really want you to understand?

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