EMC expands from storage to config management

EMC on Wednesday took a major step beyond its heritage of providing systems to store enterprise data with a pair of tools to manage the configuration and compliance of servers.

The Hopkington, Mass.-based firm launched EMC Server Configuration Manager, which is designed to let users automatically discover and maintain details about IT infrastructure. Working across Windows, Unix or Linux, the software promises users the ability to deal with violations of policies through a simple “right click” action. It also includes a number of pre-built compliance toolkits for common regulatory mandates and industry standards such as PCI, SOX and ISO 27001.

Data from Server Configuration Manager can get fed into EMC Configuration Analytics Manager, which offers a dashboard to report on key performance indicators related to servers, networks or both.

EMC senior product marketing manager Jeff Abbott said the expansion into configuration management follows the company’s purchase of several other firms, including network systems management vendor Smarts, whose product line keeps track of applications, and service management company Infra. A third acquisition, Voyence, which manages network and change management according to the ITIL framework.

“If you look at where we were a year ago, we had a fairly thin story around data centre compliance,” Abbott said. “We’ve now kind of covered this from a technology perspective across servers, applications, network and storage.”

IT infrastructure automation has become a hot space for mergers and acquisitions over the past year, which HP buying Opsware and BMC acquiring BladeLogic. Abbott said EMC realizes it will be going up against some formidable competitors.

“We understand that HP has a very large number of products. We don’t have as many as they do, yet we have some very interesting foundational-level capabilities of the real-time discovery and being able to understand the relationships and interdependencies of all these items on the infrastructure,” he said.

Dennis Drogseth, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, said EMC’s biggest challenge will be putting the necessary sales and marketing resources behind the products, but customer acceptance may not be a big issue.

“I think IT shops could potentially be very receptive to the portfolio as it’s evolving,” he said. “Systems configuration and chance management was a pretty logical next step for them.”

Abbott said customer education would be an important element of EMC’s strategy.

“We’re kind of filling in a gap or the final piece of the puzzle in some respects. A lot of the deals we get into start with a server. That is the beginning of how they build their solution,” he said. “There’s probably a certain level of ignorance of what you can really do with this information.”

EMC will be pricing Server Configuration Manager based on the number of servers being managed. Configuration Analytics Manager will be a flat fee, though the company did not provide further details. Both will be available by the middle of next month.

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