EMC: We're multi-vendor. Really.

EMC recently made good on a promise to open its storage-managementsoftware to embrace others' products. How "open" it really is remains tobe seen, but at least it's a step in the right direction. And there willbe more announcements along these lines over the next year to two.

Here's a quick summary of what the company announced in mid-September,most of which now support Clariion devices (the former Data Generaltechnology now owned by EMC) and Hewlett-Packard StorageWorks gear aswell as EMC's own Symmetrix family of arrays:

* Automated Resource Manager (ARM) software, said to automate the manymanual steps required to provision storage on array, SAN or hostcomputer. At most companies, the process of asking for more storagespace is a bit like the kid in Oliver asking for seconds of the gruelthey served up at the orphanage: "Please, sir, may I have some more?"

ARM aims to reduce the number of steps required for more storage space,as well as simplify the ones that remain.

* SAN Manager, formerly called ESN Manager, now supports HP devices.

* StorageScope reporting software now supports HDS, HP, Sun and IBMsystems and, just as important, also can give you the scoop about "JBOD"usage - just a bunch of disks. Also new are stats about internal serverstorage and networked storage devices, too.

* Common Array Manager, to monitor the status of an array, now supportsNetwork Appliance arrays. (It already supported HP, HDS, Sun and otherarrays.)* EMCLink, a new application that offers tuning advice and alerts you topotential performance problems for various applications (SAP R/3 andMicrosoft Exchange); DBMSes (Oracle and SQL Server); and operatingsystems (HP-UX and IBM's AIX, Windows, Sun Solaris and Linux). EMC hoststhis at its facility. This is a predictive monitor, and it will beexpanded to work with other systems and software.

There were more announcements, but those were the highlights, in myopinion. To read more about what EMC did, go here:http://www.emc.com/news/press_releases/viewUS.jsp?id=1331All of these products fall under the auspices of EMC's AutoISinitiative, and there will be more to come. Chuck Hollis, an EMC vicepresident in the marketing group, signaled the company's direction whenhe and I spoke back in June. At that point, Hollis said that EMC isworking in three basic directions: automating repetitive tasks likebackup and verifying that they're done; integrating common tasks likethose required for storage provisioning; and providing expertise andcoaching to "help you through a difficult passage." The example he gavehere was, say you need 100G-bytes for an application but it's notreadily available. The system can look around for little bits and piecesthat nobody's using and then ask you if it's okay to dedicate those tothe task at hand.

Next up, within 12 to 18 months, will be real-time performance analysiswith suggested corrective actions. Another thing coming will be overallmanagement of data replication - remote replication for disasterrecovery, local replication for backup/restore or version control. Thenthey'll start working on a means of optimizing where data lives - movingdata among devices with different classes of service as needs require.

Keep in mind that all these initiatives will be multi-vendor in nature,and not just manage EMC's own devices, Hollis said.

Finally, EMC will be moving into services in a big way. The company willtrain customers on how to use the gear within existing corporatepolicies. "A top-of-the-line sports car doesn't make you a better driver- you still need to learn how to drive it," he says. And the second"most pressing problem" is the skills gap.

As Hollis explains it, "Now that we did what you wanted and automatedeverything that can be, how will customers get there? We've seen thisbefore with big technology innovations - ERP, client/server, the Web."

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