EMC Unloads Both Barrels for Product Refresh


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EMC's announcement Monday of upgrades and new products across its entire family of networked storage established a couple of things, according to analysts.

First, it showed how the Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage systems vendor is unifying its product lines along its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy for managing content from its birth until it is ready to be expunged from a company network.

Second, it showed that EMC is still loyal to its hardware roots. Doubling up on performance and capacity from last year's inaugural Symmetrix DMX high-end system to its latest DMX-2 offering is testament to that.

The two points are related. Reaffirming its hardware interests is crucial for a company trying to present a truly unified platform for corralling data on a network.

Within an ILM framework, documents are monitored and shepherded on an enterprise's network infrastructure. Keeping track of documents has become increasingly important with the heightened sensitivity over keeping records intact due to corporate governance guidelines. This puts pressure on businesses to install infrastructure capable of maintaining and retrieving documents for long periods of time.

While the prospect of becoming familiar with a new product may be daunting, EMC is allaying customer fears about having outdated storage systems by offering unilateral backwards compatibility between the new and old Symmetrix boxes and CLARiiON machines for the medium-sized enterprise customer.

"Integration up and down the stack really plays well with EMC's ILM strategy," says Sageza Research Group Director Charles King. "They are going out the door with unified product upgrades and new products, and everything is tied together. EMC has an awful lot of equipment out there, and they are making it easier for older customers who haven't upgraded in the last couple of product cycles to get into ILM because of the backwards compatibility of the hardware."

To make its bid for ILM succeed, EMC has been grabbing the limelight for its trinity of recent software acquisitions, buying data archivist Legato Systems, acquiring enterprise content management outfit Documentum, and making a play for server virtualization concern VMware.

The seemingly tunnel-minded view on buying software to bolster ILM caused many in the industry to ponder whether EMC is becoming a software company. But by launching the broadest array of hardware products in the company's history, EMC has perhaps put those concerns to rest.

"The biggest takeaway here is that EMC was able to choreograph a complete refresh of its enormous hardware family," says Enterprise Storage Group analyst Peter Gerr. He continues by noting that the key point is "despite those software acquisitions and ILM, EMC is still a storage company, and it will not be distracted from where its bread gets buttered."

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