The storage giant has souped up its ControlCenter Navisphere, MirrorView and SnapView software products with features that allow administrators to back up data more frequently and make it easier to send copies of information over long distances.
Part of the testing and design of the software was done by Dell, extending a relationship forged with EMC last October. The new software will run on EMC's Clariion storage server, which is one of the main pieces of hardware Dell agreed to resell under the companies' pact, said Frank Frankovsky senior manager of Dell/EMC product management at Dell.
With Navisphere 6.0, users will be able to manage their storage systems via any Java-equipped browser, allowing administrators to tweak system configurations remotely. The product previously had a tool that would notify managers of possible problems, but users still had to go on site to work on the storage systems. Now, an administrator could, for example, fix a problem from home, Frankovsky said. The new version of the software starts shipping in April.
Dell is, additionally, working on a version of the management software that could be used with a PDA, Frankovsky said. Using a portable device to manage storage gear would give users a much higher level of flexibility with their administrative duties.
"Right now, we don't think the client-side software requirements are that heavy," he said. "I would say [a product] would arrive sooner rather than later."
The MirrorView software that allows administrators to copy data between a primary and a secondary location over Fibre Channel networks has also been upgraded. EMC made it possible to back up data sitting on a number of storage servers onto one piece of hardware. In the past, the storage servers needed to be linked via one-to-one relationships. Now users can, for example, back up all the data sitting on four storage boxes onto one storage box as far as 60km away. The release of the software, version 1.3, is also due in April, Frankovsky said.
The SnapView software was also upgraded, to let users make more copies of data sets than with previous versions of the product. A company can now take up to eight "snapshots" of its data, allowing a business, for example, to back up information every hour of a regular business day.
One analyst was impressed with some the new tools being offered by EMC, saying the company has caught up to competitors.
"The upgrade to SnapView was important because a lot of other vendors let you take more than one snapshot of data," said Dianne McAdam, an analyst at Illuminata. "A lot of times, you want to make a backup copy and another for testing."
In addition, EMC's Clariion product - also sold as the Dell/EMC FC4700 - will now support the NetWare 6.0, HP-UX 11i, Tru64 and Irix 6.4.15 operating systems.
Dell and EMC have also held informal talks with Microsoft - a relative newcomer to the storage space - about future storage deals, according to Frankovsky. Microsoft has announced a new storage division and plans to work in the NAS market.
"We are engaged in discussions with both EMC and Microsoft," Frankovsky said. "We are so excited about Microsoft jumping in to try and standardise and simplify the storage environment."