IBM Puts Venom In Viper To Bite EMC

Next week, the company will announce what it will call an "industry first" in data storage compression, code-named Venom, to surface in the next release of its DB2 database, aka "Viper."

The technology could reduce customer storage hardware costs and usage by more than 50 percent, according to IBM. The company also claims Venom will cut CPU and memory bandwidth requirements.

Venom is characterized as a "mainframe-like" compression capability. It enables row compression in addition to Viper's index compression, according to IBM.

EMC and IBM have long locked horns in storage although Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC remains the market leader.

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In the past few years, EMC has gotten increasingly aggressive in non-storage software in an attempt to expand its portfolio and IT coverage.

Its buyout binge has included its $1.7 billion acquisition of Documentum, in the fall of 2003. Documentum's document management portfolio competes with several IBM's Information Management products.

By that time EMC had already purchased Legato, with its data backup expertise. Prior to that EMC had snapped up VMWare, Data General, Softworks and other companies.

IBM's timing is hardly coincidental. Next week, EMC is hosting its sixth annual technology summit, the EMC Technical World conference, to unveil its strategy for the next year to users, partners, press and analysts. The event will include an evening at Boston's Fenway Park.

In the past few years, IBM has repositioned part of its software group from a data management to an information management focus. Likewise, EMC has touted its wares for Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).

EMC and IBM, like many tech players, have a complicated relationship. IBM remains VMware's biggest reseller, for example, and IBM VARs tend to be big fans of VMware's virtualization technology.

EMC has been careful to keep VMWare at arm's length, to preserve its existing relationships with IBM and Hewlett-Packard and other players that compete with the EMC parent company.

Still, as both IBM and EMC seek ways to expand their respective footprints in enterprise accounts they are bound to compete more over time.