Q&A: EMC's Mark Lewis, EVP of Open Software Page 2
Q: EMC has made an awful lot of references in the last couple months to information lifecycle management. Describe what ILM is and why the company is banking so much on the ability to deliver it to customers. Then, describe how the increased focus on government regulations such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley impacts or influences EMC's innovation in ILM.
ILM for us becomes the next extension to what we believe we successfully delivered with automated network storage itself. And the neat thing about ILM is obviously not only that it's a combination of product, but it really describes a point of solutions and a value proposition to customers. So, more specifically for us, ILM is our ability to help customers dynamically move information to the right platform and the right storage media at every point in a data's lifecycle such that we reduce the customer's TCO of managing that data.
The foundation for that comes in differentiated platforms and saying there is even more expensive storage and less expensive storage. We built up to that with storage networking. We built up to that with automation that we put in. All of those pieces and building blocks are needed for ILM — and the new thing becomes this dynamic data movement: the idea that you move from static backup and even static replication to the idea that data movement becomes very dynamic — something that can be done while the application is running.
Now, the regulatory implications and the regulatory happenings of the world today have accelerated the need for ILM because, up until now, customers really weren't addressing their electronic information the same ways they were their paper information. They really weren't dealing with compliance across their business through all of their records, across all applications. So, it was something that just wasn't dealt with.
So now with HIPAA and the SEC regulations and the DOD regs and all of the different ones, the common thread is that customers have to come in across their applications and ensure that their data is protected and archived and maintained. So last year we introduced Centera — the fixed content storage to help be the record retention placeholder for the information. ILM becomes more about putting the software in place to help us move the information and records onto products like Centera while not bringing down the applications.
Q: In the past year or so you've made a number of software-related acquisitions, including Astrum Software, Prisa Networks, BMC's storage management software, and Legato Systems. And you've recently moved to acquire Documentum. Analysts in the past year have come to refer to EMC as a proprietary hardware company, but an open software company. Is that fair description? Is that too simplistic? How would you characterize EMC's direction?
Well, every product you build is in and of itself somewhat proprietary in the sense that, you know within Windows, Microsoft only allows limited access to what people can put around it. So I believe that with both software and hardware, in the sense of how the world would categorize it, [we] are attempting to be very open. You saw [EMC's executive VP, Storage Platforms Operations ] David Donatelli talk today about SMI-S, and about how we'll have all of our products SMI-S supported. We support heterogeneous environments with disks and tape and other suppliers' software and other suppliers' hardware arrays.
The funny thing I've always found is that I think EMC is the most open hardware player in the market today. If you take an EMC Symmetrix, it will run on an IBM machine and a Sun machine and an HP machine. Go to an IBM Shark and say: "Where will it run outside of IBM?" Go to an HP-XP and say: "Does it run outside of its environment?" Go to Sun. Each of those vendors that says EMC is proprietary is actually proprietary on their own platforms. So it just doesn't fly with me.