EMC Gets Personal

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EMC has acquired a startup that specializes in managing personal information, technology the storage giant says could be used across a number of product lines as it moves further into the consumer and services markets.

Seattle-based Pi Corporation was founded by 14-year Microsoft veteran Paul Maritz, with help from Warburg Pincus. The company offers software and services for personal information management, helping users organize, share, protect and access their data. The company is beta testing its first products and has about 100 engineers in the U.S., Canada and India.

Maritz will join EMC’s executive management team as president and general manager of the new Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division and will report directly to CEO Joe Tucci. Maritz will oversee development and operations for Pi and other elements of EMC’s cloud computing strategy, including the EMC Fortress SaaS infrastructure, the Mozy online backup service and other systems and software offerings that are under development.

Pi makes manages information and makes it available by replicating it across machines and devices, either on local devices and networks or on Pi’s hosting services.

“The most important part of this is that EMC is placing another bet in a segment of the market that will provide both revenue growth and strategic diversification,” said Enterprise Strategy Group senior analyst Tony Prigmore. “We all know how information creation and growth here makes the information management challenge and opportunity in the enterprise look anemic by comparison. They are now in a very unique position of being able to roll out a complete portfolio of services over the next year or so to seize this market opportunity.

“We might not know any Pi-specific product details for a year or so, but EMC management has done a great job of identifying adjacent market opportunities (Documentum, VMware, RSA) and at this point it is really hard to imagine they will not execute successfully, given the track record of the senior management team they have running the new Cloud Infrastructure group.”

In a research note, Baird analyst Daniel Renouard said that even though the personal information SaaS market “has meaningful potential, we believe this strategic direction could be challenging for EMC given lack of consumer brand name and significant competition from the likes of Microsoft, Google or Yahoo.”

In a blog posting, EMC Global Marketing CTO Chuck Hollis noted that 70 to 80 percent of new data is being created by individuals.

“Success in this new space will require a very different technology base — and a business model — very unlike other parts of the traditional IT landscape,” wrote Hollis. “The visible parts of this new entity include Pi’s assets, as well as Mozy and the Fortress platform.”

Hollis suggested that Pi could fit with a number of EMC offerings and divisions, such as its LifeLine home storage software and RSA security.

Pi could also be offered as a service, he said, or “as our work lives and personal lives blur … our personal content might need to be shared in very structured ways, using collaborative workflows, across traditional boundaries, hence Documentum.”

“Pi is potentially the centerpiece of a very intriguing strategic play,” he wrote.

In a statement, Tucci said EMC is “positioned to set a new standard for organizing, accessing and deriving value from … information.”

Maritz said that as part of EMC, Pi will be “ideally positioned to realize our vision of allowing consumers and corporate information workers to create, repurpose, store, share and access personal information in novel ways, taking advantage of the ubiquity of computing power and a new interconnected world.”

Pi will operate as an independent subsidiary of EMC and will continue expanding operations in its Seattle headquarters and offices in Montreal and Bangalore, India.

The all-cash deal is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

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Paul Shread
Paul Shread
eSecurity Editor Paul Shread has covered nearly every aspect of enterprise technology in his 20+ years in IT journalism, including an award-winning series on software-defined data centers. He wrote a column on small business technology for Time.com, and covered financial markets for 10 years, from the dot-com boom and bust to the 2007-2009 financial crisis. He holds a market analyst certification.

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