EMC targets software at multivendor storage networks

EMC Corp. Tuesday announced storage-area network (SAN) software that's designed to manage storage devices made by some of its rivals, saying that the addition of mixed-vendor support is being done in reaction to pressure from systems administrators.

Users have been pushing for the ability to manage EMC's Symmetrix and Clariion disk arrays along with other storage products and connectivity devices, according to officials at the company. To start with, disk storage systems made by Compaq Computer Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Hitachi Ltd. and tape devices from Storage Technology Corp. have been qualified to work with the new software.

Network switches and other connectivity devices made by companies such as San Jose-based Brocade Communications Systems Inc. and Broomfield, Colo.-based McData Corp. can also be controlled, EMC said. An addition to EMC's Enterprise Storage Network (ESN) product line, the new ESN Manager tool is said to provide a single point of control for administrators to use in managing multiple "zones" of interconnected storage devices.

Steve Duplessie, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said he never thought he'd see the day when EMC began "acknowledging other systems existed out there." But EMC's rivals shouldn't take too much comfort from the move, he added.

The development of ESN Manager "should scare the hell out of [other vendors]," Duplessie said. "EMC is already clearly the storage king. All of a sudden, if they actually live up to what they say and . . . become an open systems management provider, they are really a lethal weapon."

Paul Ross, manager of network storage marketing at EMC, said the company hopes to prompt users that don't have its devices now to migrate from single-vendor storage setups to mixed SANs that include Symmetrix and Clariion arrays. "People claim EMC is proprietary, but we're really not," Ross said.

EMC's announcement follows one last Friday in which Sun Microsystems Inc. teamed up with former rival Brocade. Sun said it would start selling Brocade's Silkworm switches, which act as data traffic directors in a SAN. Brocade in turn announced that it would begin using Sun's Jiro SAN management software with its devices.

Joe Butt, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., said EMC's increased spending on software research and development is a sign that the company is "genuinely interested" in doing more than selling disk arrays. EMC executives want to be more accessible to users who haven't fully committed to Symmetrix and Clariion, he added.

Management tasks supported by ESN Manager include setting limits on which end users can access different devices on a SAN and configuring logical pathways between various servers and storage subsystems, EMC said. The software's base price is US$24,000 per Symmetrix box, making it a relatively high-end offering in the storage management market.

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