Rivals EMC and HP to exchange APIs

Rivals EMC Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have agreed to expand a cross-licensing agreement for certain storage system application programming interfaces (API), a move that will eventually allow the development of storage management software capable of controlling each other’s storage devices.

The two companies said that by the beginning of next year, they will have integrated their respective APIs, enabling HP’s devices to work with EMC’s ControlCenter management suite, which includes SANmanager software, StorageScope, Replication Manager and PowerPath. All of the software will be enabled through EMC’s WideSky middleware.

“It will give our customers the ability to mix and match more storage platforms than they have ever before,” said Don Swatik, Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC’s vice president of alliances and information sciences.

Customer pressure over increasingly complex heterogeneous storage networks drove HP and EMC to exchange the APIs, executives from both companies said.

Experts say the API exchange is little more than window dressing on the agreement signed by EMC and Compaq last November to share APIs.

HP spokesman Roger Archibald said the API exchange does, however, add HP’s OpenView SAN management software and its Virtual Array products.

Under the terms of the agreement, EMC is licensing APIs to HP to support auto discovery and control functions of EMC’s high-end Symmetrix array and midrange Clariion server. HP is licensing APIs to EMC to support the same functions in HP’s StorageWorks Virtual Array systems and the StorageWorks XP systems, which HP resells from Hitachi Data Systems Corp. in Santa Clara, Calif.

Arun Teneja, a storage analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said the API exchange bodes especially well for EMC’s WideSky software, part of that company’s AutoIS initiative to manage storage hardware and software from competitors.

“This would be a major step forward for EMC,” Teneja said. “There’s been so much doubt and uncertainty in the marketplace [about] whether or not EMC’s competitors would in fact do this exchange. The fact that these guys are moving forward shows EMC must have quelled their fears that this was a Trojan horse and that they were going to try to use it to steal all their business.”

The API exchange will allow the two companies’ storage subsystems to gather information about and perform functions with each other, including configurations, performance statistics, remote snapshots and clone, and to create and configure logical unit number (LUN) masking and device masking and settings. It will also allow administrators to build LUNs to create topology maps.

In addition, the companies will define cooperative support levels so that end users of the respective storage management products can be assured that each vendor will provide support for its configurations.

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