EMC Discusses Information Life-Cycle Strategy, Road Map

That is the message Mark Lewis, executive vice president of open software at EMC, gave to a crowd of IT administrators during his keynote at the EMC Technology Summit, held this week in Orlando, Fla.

"EMC is about one thing right now," Lewis said. "We are about becoming this ultimate information life-cycle management company. We want to help you get the most value from your information, and we want to do it with the lowest total cost. It's really that simple."

Yet while EMC is heavily focused on information life-cycle management, or ILM, Lewis put the brakes on the hype by warning that the company and the industry have a long way to go before anyone can buy an ILM solution.

"Our ultimate belief is you're going to have a strategy for ILM," he said. "ILM exists as a process, and more so, really, as a strategic intent for your organization. ... We would love to be able to just sell you ILM V1.0. When I get done with this talk, most folks will say, 'Yeah, sure, interesting. Just ship one out and we'll see if it works,' " Lewis said.

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Unfortunately, Lewis said, ILM is not a single offering but is made up of a lot of parts, many of which EMC has in its quiver thanks to its recent acquisitions of Legato, Documentum and VMware.

"Our journey with you is to adapt these pieces to best fit your business," he said. "To get you to understand and use the pieces you need and put the pieces together in a very integrated way."

The base of ILM is tiered network storage at various price ranges to help customers control the cost of storing data. On top of that base, EMC is offering flexible data protection and recovery, dynamic data movement via virtualization, active information management of the entire data infrastructure, and appropriate services, Lewis said.

Lewis discussed strategies for the various components of ILM, and gave a sneak peek at Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC's product road maps for some of those components.

For comprehensive storage management in the large enterprise space, EMC in the short term will drive a common look and feel across all EMC platforms and eventually across heterogeneous platforms as well, Lewis said. Its long-term strategy is to integrate ILM software components so that ILM focuses more on process management, not just on device management, he said.

As a result, the company is expecting version 5.2 of its ControlCenter storage and device resource management software, planned for next quarter, to offer improved ease of use and integrated service management, Lewis said. The next version of ControlCenter, expected early next year, should have an improved user experience and improved service management capabilities, including change management, workflow and Web services.

In terms of comprehensive storage management for midtier growing companies, EMC will focus on integrating SAN and NAS capabilities, standardizing around the SMI-S (Storage Management Initiative Specification) and integrating storage resource management into ILM products, Lewis said. The company expects to introduce a point release to its VisualSAN software for the discovery, managing and monitoring of SANs to include SMI-S array support and expanded platform coverage, he said.

For data protection and recovery, EMC plans to focus on technology to ease backups to disk as well as to tape, and make data replication more applicable to heterogeneous storage environments, Lewis said. Over the long term, the company expects to offer technology to continuously back up and protect information.

As a result, EMC expects to release version 7.2 of its NetWorker backup and recovery software with increased data zone limits and capacity enhancements, as well as NDMP (Network Data Management Protocol) storage node merge for enterprise-wide backup of heterogeneous network-attached storage by year-end. Late next year, NetWorker 7.3 is expected to include a new user interface and new configuration wizards with auto-discovery of storage components, Lewis said.

To improve the dynamic movement of data, EMC plans to virtualize storage via initial beta tests of its storage router in the third quarter. The storage router is expected to be released in the first half of 2005, said Lewis.

The storage router is a combination hardware/software device that virtualizes data movement over storage switches from vendors such as Cisco Systems, Brocade Communications and McData to route data automatically to the most appropriate location on the SAN without the host server being aware of exactly where it is. "We think that's ultimately a very necessary part of building nondisruptive operations in your storage environment," he said.

In terms of active management of unstructured information, EMC plans to improve deployment speed and expand platform and integration support in the short term and unite collaboration tools and enterprise content management tools in the long term, Lewis said.

To do that, EMC's roadmap calls for Documentum version 5.3 to be released with the Mandatory Access Control List (MACL) security standard, integrated e-mail archival support based on Legato technology and an enhanced collaboration platform, said Lewis. By second quarter of next year, Documentum version 5.4 is expected to be available with enhanced storage-aware content repository capabilities, next-generation content delivery services and enhanced full-text search support, he said.