EMC, CMGI team on storage, search engines

Storage vendor EMC Corp. and CMGI Inc., which owns several Internet businesses, earlier this month announced that they would cooperate to integrate EMC’s storage technology with CMGI’s software for searching on the Web.

EMC and AltaVista Co. will work together to integrate AltaVista’s search software and APIs (application programming interfaces) with EMC’s Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems and software. “We found that companies don’t want to buy stuff and put it in themselves,” said David Luff, vice-president, strategic alliances at CMGI. “So we provide an in-built search technology that’s proven and tested ….”

The first phase of the initiative will include CMGI majority-owned subsidiaries such as search engine AltaVista Co., custom software development company Tallan Inc. and application service provider NaviSite Inc. The second phase, which involves the addition of more CMGI companies to the initiative, is expected to be completed by February 2001. At the moment, the relationship with NaviSite is the most mature, but discussions with AltaVista are getting underway, according to EMC.

The relationship will be mutually beneficial, according to Luff. “From CMGI’s perspective, it provides us with immediate distribution through EMC as a channel,” he said. “We’re looking at some interesting technology. They’ve got an API program which we’re going to be included in.”

And with AltaVista’s search layer, EMC can tackle unstructured data and develop additional products that incorporate this feature.

The partnership will also involve AltaVista technology-procurement by EMC. “We’re acquiring the technology to be able to test it and do development work on it,” said Tom Heiser, vice-president of global channels and service providers at EMC. “The benefit will be products that are better suited to communicate and enhance the search engine and its functionality to be able to run on the Symmetrix platform.”

NaviSite is a member of EMC’s XSperience Provider Program and offers managed storage services based on EMC solutions to deliver a managed Storage Area Network (SAN) service that is custom designed for customers’ data storage needs.

NaviSite manages services for companies with a variety of different applications. The partnership with NaviSite will help EMC sell more storage systems, Luff said.

Tallan would provide EMC with application support on an internal and external level. Externally, it will provide professional services to EMC’s sales team. “Eighty per cent of the time, (EMC) outsources the installation to other companies,” said Luff. “But now Tallan would become a preferred provider (for EMC).” Tallan will also aid EMC with internal Web development.

“I think the uniqueness of this is that we’re able to deal with multiple companies under the CMGI umbrella,” Heiser said. “I think of CMGI as the glue that holds us together in a synergistic fashion. We’re able to hit multiple companies at once.”

The initiative will focus on Fortune 500 companies. “We’re already engaged in several discussions with several top companies and that could be anything from a technology company to a retailer to a telecommunications company,” said Luff.

David Hill, research director of storage and storage management with The Aberdeen Group Inc. in Boston, viewed this as EMC’s effort to work with many companies and increase its sales. “They’re doing very well and the storage market is growing very well,” he said.

Another analyst, William Hurley, program manager at The Yankee Group also based in Boston, said: “CMGI’s search engine as a back end to EMC storage can help EMC deal with issues of performance availability and scale.” At the same time, the EMC technology will prevent search-engine corruption, he added.

EMC Corp., based in Hopkinton, Mass., can be reached on the Web at http://www.emc.com. CMGI Inc., based in Andover, Mass., is at http://www.cmgi.com.