Innovation Fuels EMC's Drive to ILM


NEW YORK — Though it announced an across-the-board product refresh in February, EMC held back a bit on revealing future innovations fueled by the company's spending on research and development.

That all changed Thursday at EMC's annual analyst meeting in New York City, when officials unveiled hardware and software projects to help the company fill in gaps in its evolving information lifecycle management (ILM) effort.

This strategy is designed to help businesses manage files over the course of their existence and disposal in the wake of several federal compliance and record-keeping regulations. EMC believes this represents a market in the realm of $46 billion.

SRDF Getting a New Twist

Executive Vice President of Storage Platforms Dave Donatelli said he and his team are writing software for 2005 that allows "non-disruptive movement" and migration of data across storage infrastructure.

For example, unlike current SRDF replication software for disaster recovery and business continuity from EMC — which moves data in one direction — the new asynchronous SRDF/A product will route data bi-directionally, or to multiple machines, providing a new level of performance.

"When we brought out SRDF/A last year, it came out as single machine to single machine [communication]," Donatelli said. "This release will go beta this year and you'll have the capability with SRDF/A to go bi-directional. You can do many applications to a single one with consistency, which means you can restart your application on the other side."

The Hopkinton, Mass., company hopes this new technology will help it steal market share from VERITAS Software , the leader in the back-up software sector.

Storage Router

While the platform side has traditionally been the root of EMC's strength, the software division is coming on strong. At the meeting, officials said EMC's Legato and Documentum divisions joined EMC's Open Software division to form EMC Software. This unit is led by EVP Mark Lewis and EVP Dave DeWalt, formerly CEO of Documentum.

"Dave and I have a goal to accelerate the business," said Lewis, who along with DeWalt has pledged to help EMC's software business grow to $1.5 billion in revenues. "Over the past 10 months, we've just blown by the competition. But we're not stopping there."

Lewis unveiled what EMC calls a Storage Router, a virtualization product he said has unprecedented levels of intelligence compared to intelligent switches on the market today from Cisco Systems , Brocade Communications and McData .

Designed to complement those companies' switches in an ILM platform, it is a SAN-based controller software running in a network that manages and uses intelligent ports. The product works sans latency or bandwidth so as not to affect the existing infrastructure. Data flow is direct, straight from the device host to the storage.

By way of comparison, Lewis said current "in-band" routers perform at about 140,000 operations per second. The Storage Router he and his team are developing will run 2,560,000 operations per second.

"All these guys that have tried to come up with early approaches [to intelligent switches] have tried to put array controllers in switches," Lewis told in a briefing after the meeting. "They hold their data in the array controller, and they create a transactional problem for themselves. They take what is a switch and turn it into an array with inhibiting performance characteristics. We think the revolution in a storage router is like a network router. They don't sit there and hold my e-mail for awhile: they route it. They know where I am and they route it from A to B."

Routing the data so efficiently will help EMC build bigger, more complex SANs, Lewis explained. But he also said switches from the networking vendors will help Storage Router work. The product will go to beta customers in the third quarter and will appear in the first half of 2005.

Storage Aware Content Management, Anyone?

Meanwhile, DeWalt has crafted an approach called "storage-aware content management." The executive, who worked at Oracle before leading Documentum to the top of the content management space, said EMC is going to make an aggressive push in the space, gunning for market share from rival VERITAS.

"I've already been sticking pins in my Gary Bloom doll," DeWalt said in a joke referring to VERITAS' CEO.

On a serious note, DeWalt discussed his vision for "storage aware" content management, which calls for the automated management of unstructured data, such as email, spreadsheets, PDFs and rich media files.

"Think about all of the information that sits in file systems today," DeWalt told "Eighty percent of the information in the enterprise is unstructured. Of that information, 95 percent is unmanaged. If we can apply the ability to understand storage — move it, manage it — based on policies and rules, we can completely change the optimization problem in storage, particularly for unstructured data, which is a huge, vast array of information.

"None of the competitors in this market are even close," continued DeWalt. "They're not architecturally suited for that. We walk in purely on total cost of ownership and say 'take all of your file content, ingest it in this repository and I'll give you return on investment just on your storage alone.'"

Lewis jumped in with the bottom line: "When we completed the Documentum acquisition, the analysts said, 'Well, we don't understand the connection.' So now, everybody's going to see the connection."

Story courtesy of Internet News


Want the latest storage insights?