EMC, Compaq integrating rival products

Compaq Computer Corp. and EMC Corp., the two largest and fiercest competitors in the storage arena, have opened their programming interfaces to each other, a move that will eventually allow IT managers to integrate storage networks with disk arrays from either company.

Bowing to customer demand for open storage environments, the two storage giants announced today an agreement to cross-license their storage system application programming interfaces to aid the development of storage management applications capable of managing both companies’ storage systems.

The agreement with Compaq applies only to the Symmetrix line of EMC products for now, but EMC said it will pen similar agreements for its Clariion midrange array.

“Some of our competitors in the storage space will be pressured to open their environments as well, because I think customers are going to demand open environments,” said Ken Steinhardt, EMC’s director of technology analysis. “I think it’s the first of many relationships you’ll see going forward.”

In addition, the companies will define cooperative support levels to assure end users of new storage management products that each vendor will support its configurations.

Don Langeberge, director of marketing for Compaq’s storage software and solutions division, said his company will release software that is able to centrally manage storage from either company in the first quarter of next year.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst at Storage Enterprise Group in Milford, Mass., liked the move.

“I’m going to say those two companies’ products are probably the most co-resident architectures in the enterprise today,” Prigmore said. “If you’re an end user, what you’re thinking is, ‘In the past, I had EMC and Compaq infrastructure and had two separate sets of management tools for those two storage frameworks. Now, I can have a single storage management framework for both pieces of hardware.’

“For customers to see they’ve got two previously uncooperative vendors now being extremely cooperative is nothing but positive for end users. They’re going to be able to enjoy end products that interoperate to a degree that they’ve never seen before,” Prigmore said. “It’s going to be very interesting to see the products that get rolled out by both companies over the next several months.”

Late last month, Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC announced a suite of new storage management products: ControlCenter/Open Edition, Replication Manager, StorageScope and Common Array Manager, all of which are controlled by a middleware application, called WideSky, that ties information together. That move, said Prigmore, should allow EMC to build in more functionality.

“In regard to EMC’s AutoIS … the notion here is that the more cooperation and participation EMC gets into their program, the more functionality they can build into their software framework,” Prigmore said.

EMC said the AutoIS suite and its WideSky application will be able to manage storage hardware and software from EMC and competitors, including Compaq, Hewlett-Packard Co., Sun Microsystems Inc, IBM Corp. and Network Appliance Inc.

“The announcement of AutoIS was the signal that we’re not only opening our environment to cooperative software companies, but to companies that historically have been our competitors,” Steinhardt said. “Our doors are open to IBM. I think that customers will definitely pressure companies that have been all talk, like IBM, to opening their environments and to put up or shut up.”