EMC continues ILM push

The EMC Forum, an EMC event for partners and customers, rolled into Toronto on Wednesday with a now-familiar message: enterprises can save money by prioritizing their storage needs.

EMC labels its storage strategy for enterprises as Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), a concept EMC began pushing last year in the midst of acquiring three software companies, Legato, Documentum and VMware.

While ILM might sound intimidating, its meaning is pretty simple – companies can save money by putting less important information on cheaper storage devices, while using software to help them manage and automate their storage needs.

There are several steps to implementing ILM, noted Chris Gahagan, EMC’s senior vice-president of storage management software. The first, and most basic step, is tiered storage. For example, if a customer was running out of storage space on a high-end EMC Symmetrix system, rather than buying another Symmetrix system, they could migrate less important data to a less-expensive Clarriion system.

“We tell the customer to start from tiered storage, because we can show very quick and dramatic hard-dollar savings,” Gahagan said. “That’s what they want to see. They don’t want to see this fuzzy kind of math, like, for example, your customers can access something four times faster, so you get four times as much customer satisfaction.”

Beyond tiered storage, ILM steps include data protection and recovery; data movement; information and content management. Showing hard return on investment figures with the other steps isn’t as simple, Gahagan noted, because it’s tough to quantify savings achieved through efficiency.

EMC’s biggest challenge in the Canadian market is to increase its visibility, noted Alan Freedman, an analyst with Toronto-based IDC Canada Ltd.

“EMC doesn’t have the same cachet in Canada that they have in the U.S.,” he said. “People here are still focused on the major systems vendors like IBM, HP, Sun and Dell. It’s imperative for EMC to get out there promoting their name.”

One thing that should help EMC increase its Canadian presence is the push the company is putting into its mid-range Clariion line.

“That fits well with the makeup of Canadian organizations with a small- to medium-business focus,” Freedman said, adding there aren’t many Canadian companies that can justify the purchase of EMC’s bread-and-butter high-end Symmetrix storage systems.

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