EMC is still in the process of fitting together all the pieces of its ILM (information lifecycle management) jigsaw puzzle, but a partial picture of its roadmap emerged at its EMC World conference in Boston last month.
EMC for the past several years has been on a shopping spree of software and services companies to help it expand beyond its roots as a storage company into a one-stop-shop for storing, managing, protecting and securing data. It is currently figuring out how to integrate all of its products.
"I think EMC's biggest challenge is that they have so many offerings no one can even understand what they have," says Bob Diamond, vice president of IT for Orange Regional Medical Centre.
While EMC is working to tie together the companies it has already acquired, EMC chief executive Joe Tucci made it clear that the company hasn't finished shopping around.
"We will use some of our balance sheet assets to acquire more technologies; there are more companies we have on our hit list," Tucci said at the show.
Among key areas for growth, either through in-house development or acquisition, are model-based resource management, information security and virtualisation, Tucci said.
At the show, EMC rolled out new resource management and information security products stemming from its acquisitions.
For resource management, it introduced two new offerings based on technologies it gained through its acquisition of Smarts (System Management ARTS Inc.) in late 2004. The company rolled out EMC Smarts Storage Insight for Availability, designed to leverage EMC's ControlCentre storage-management software to monitor SAN network elements and the impact of failures on other parts of the infrastructure, such as host devices, files systems, EMC PowerPath logical paths, and EMC Celerra NAS systems.
Also new is EMC Smarts Application Discovery Manager, a 1-U Intel appliance with software that maps applications and their relationships to help users understand how application behavior affects infrastructure elements.
The company also announced a new storage and security line called EMC Assessment Service for Storage Security, geared to help businesses evaluate security risks, and announced availability of DRM (digital rights management) software based on technology it acquired from Authentica earlier this year.
As EMC looks to expand further beyond its storage hardware roots, its customers are also looking to it to help address a variety of needs around data management, storage and protection.
Orange Regional Medical Center, like many other businesses in the highly regulated healthcare industry, is struggling with how to deal with the explosion of data that now has to be stored and managed in compliance with regulations, Diamond said at the conference. The hospital is in the process of purchasing EMC hardware, software and services to implement a multi-tiered storage architecture.
"Our storage capacity is up significantly; we have so many large images that we're not allowed to get rid of," Diamond said.
Kevin Westover, systems engineer for Nu Skin Enterprises, was at the show mainly to check out the performance boosts of EMC's newer high-end Symmetrix DMX3 array.
"We're looking for faster performance; we have a commission we run every month that runs for a week and includes everything from sales orders to bonuses.It's a really complex piece of software," Westover said.
He said he would be willing to look at EMC for products beyond hardware, as he's been happy with the experience he's had on the storage front. For example, on the security side, he could see a need for a tool that lets users access the data they need while ensuring that users don't access data they shouldn't.
That is exactly the type of problem EMC hopes to address in the future, said Dennis Hoffman, EMC's vice president for information security.
"We think security is just another attribute of information management," Hoffman said.