EMC, Compaq move to integrate devices

Compaq Computer Corp. and EMC Corp., two of the fiercest competitors in the storage market, are opening their programming interfaces to each other to make it easier for IT managers to integrate their rival disk arrays on storage networks.

Bowing to user demand for open storage environments, Compaq and EMC this month agreed to cross-license their respective storage application programming interfaces (API). They said that should aid the development of storage management applications capable of handling storage devices made by both vendors.

Sarah Garrison, vice-president of technology at Foster City, Calif.-based Visa U.S.A. Inc., said the Compaq/EMC deal gives the credit card company more options for future storage purchases and could help it consolidate the IT management tools it now uses.

“We can look at…reducing storage costs and centralizing management of it over time,” she said. Visa’s data processing supercentres currently store about 85 per cent of the company’s information on EMC equipment, Garrison said. But Compaq servers are used at several smaller sites to route messages from Visa’s member banks.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said the rival arrays made by Compaq and EMC are probably the most co-resident storage devices on corporate networks. Now, he noted, users will be able to have one management framework for both product lines.

The deal with Compaq came just a week after Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC announced a new suite of storage management tools that can control its own arrays and rival products. The tool rollout “was the signal that we’re not only opening our environment to cooperative software companies but to companies that historically have been our competitors,” said Ken Steinhardt, EMC’s director of technology analysis.

Don Langeberge, director of marketing for Compaq’s storage software unit, said Compaq plans to release tools early next year that can centrally manage EMC’s high-end Symmetrix disk arrays.

This isn’t the first time storage rivals have pledged to work on improving interoperability. IBM and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Hitachi Data Systems Corp. agreed to share their storage APIs last June, just one day after joining Compaq, EMC and two other vendors in announcing plans to exchange technical data and cooperate on customer support.

Steinhardt said EMC is open to an API-sharing deal with IBM. But a spokesman for IBM’s storage group said it has no plans to exchange APIs with either EMC or Compaq.