EMC is still in the process of fitting together all the pieces of its ILM (information lifecycle management) jigsaw puzzle, but the company is very clear on one aspect of the strategy: It has IBM in its crosshairs.
At the EMC World conference in Boston this week, the heads of both EMC's software and information security businesses -- two core pillars of its evolving ILM strategy -- both singled out IBM as the chief competition.
EMC for the past several years has been on a shopping spree of software and services companies to help it expand beyond its roots as a storage company into a one-stop-shop for storing, managing, protecting and securing data throughout the enterprise. It
is currently figuring out how to integrate all of its products.
"I think EMC's biggest challenge is that they have so many offerings no one can even understand what they have, even their own people" said Bob Diamond, vice president of IT for Orange Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Orange County, New York, at the conference.
While EMC is working to tie together the companies it has already acquired, EMC President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Tucci made it clear that the company is not done shopping around.
"We will use some of our balance sheet assets to acquire more technologies; there are more companies we have on our hit list," Tucci said in a keynote address at the show.
Among key areas for growth, either through in-house development or acquisition, are model-based resource management, information security and virtualization, Tucci said.
At the show, EMC rolled out new resource management and information security products stemming from its acquisitions.
For resource management, EMC introduced two new offerings based on technologies it gained through its US$260 million acquisition of Smarts (System Management ARTS Inc.) in late 2004. The company rolled out EMC Smarts Storage Insight for Availability, designed to leverage EMC's ControlCenter storage-management software to monitor SAN network elements and the impact of failures on other parts of the infrastructure, such as host devices, files systems, EMC PowerPath logical paths, and EMC Celerra NAS systems. Pricing for the software starts at US$750 to US$1000 per terabyte.
Also new is EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager, a 1-U Intel appliance with software that maps applications and their relationships to help users understand how application behavior affects infrastructure elements. Pricing starts at about US$220,000 for 2,000 nodes.
The company also announced a new storage and security line called EMC Assessment Service for Storage Security, geared to help businesses evaluate security risks, and announced availability of DRM (digital rights management) software based on technology it acquired from Authentica earlier this year.
As EMC looks to expand further beyond its storage hardware roots, its customers are also looking to EMC to help address a variety of needs around data management, storage and protection.
Orange Regional Medical Center, like many other businesses in the highly regulated health-care industry, is struggling with how to deal with the explosion of data that now has to be stored and managed in compliance with regulations, said Diamond. The hospital is in the process of purchasing EMC hardware, software and services to implement a multitiered storage architecture.
"Our storage capacity is up significantly; we have so many large images that we're not allowed to get rid of," Diamond said.
Another user at the show was also there looking for solutions to address compliance requirements, but was seeking more vertical-market systems.
Ashwani Kashyap, of Hoffman-La Roche Inc, a pharmaceutical company in Nutley, New Jersey, said his company is facing increased compliance pressure from the FDA around providing information about how the company stores and manages its data.
"My biggest challenge is that the people managing the applications want to know where the data is located and how it is managed because the FDA is requiring it, and they really need granular information. I want to be able to give that information," said Kashyap.
Kevin Westover, systems engineer for Nu Skin Enterprises Co., in Provo, Utah., was at the show mainly to check out the performance boosts of EMC's newer high-end Symmetrix DMX3 array.
"We're looking for faster performance; we have a commission we run every month that runs for a week and includes everything from sales orders to bonuses, it's a really complex piece of software," Westover said.
But Westover said he would be willing to look at EMC for products beyond hardware, as he's been happy with the experience he's had on the storage front. For example on the security side, he could see a need for a tool that lets users access the data they need while ensuring that users don't access data they shouldn't.
That is exactly the type of problem EMC hopes to address in the future, said Dennis Hoffman, vice president, information security, for EMC.
"We think security is just another attribute of information management," Hoffman said.