EMC eyes storage consulting business

Looking to evolve the hardware-centric image of its Global Services business, EMC on Wednesday added a storage-agnostic consulting operation to its professional services offering.

Backed by a five-year non-exclusive agreement with Accenture to accelerate its storage consultation push, the newly minted ISC (Information Solutions Consulting) will aim to tackle customers' business needs regardless of the storage product environment they run, said Joseph Walton, senior vice president of EMC Global Services in Hopkinton, Mass.

"Economics are forcing people not to make broad sweeping changes," said Walton. "Although we would like EMC products do be the foundation [of network storage operations], the reality is customer environments are heterogeneous and we have to make sure we have the skills to deal with that and with major competitor products" deployed inside.

Walton said EMC does not envision itself as a long-term outsourcer in prospective consulting deals. Rather, the storage titan will opt for shorter deals, usually well under a year, to accomplish its goals.

He said the first roll-out of ISC's services will focus on four areas: Storage Infrastructure Strategy for modeling and aligning long-term business goals, Information Storage Consolidation to leverage current investments, Storage Management Optimization to incorporate best practices, and Business Continuity Planning to answer potential disaster recovery issues.

In particular, analysts point toward disaster recovery as a hot button issue still being felt across customers' storage environments following the events Sept. 11.

"Since 9-11, a lot of organization have been looking at their disaster recovery/business continuity plans with an eye toward updating them, improving them, and in some cases building them out," said John Webster, senior analyst at Nashua, N.H.-based research firm Data Mobility. "At the same time, IT organizations are strapped for staff. Since [ISC services] are one-time products, they're ideal for a company to come in on a one-time basis and do what's required to get from Point A to Point B."

According to Webster, customers can expect to see increased effort by EMC to follow up on company CEO Joseph Tucci's intent to wrestle a firmer grasp of software and services not wrapped around its own products or partner solutions, such as those from McData and Brocade.

"I think there is an advantage especially approaching a customer from a standpoint [EMC] is not trying to rip out and replace, they're trying to augment and build out of," added Webster.

Walton said ISC is currently available.

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