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SRM Control Issues Surface

The need for remote monitoring of SAN gear is opening up a new market for embedded software and associated services, while raising some knotty legal questions for resellers and integrators.

Late last week, Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) (NYSE: STK) won a preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts against a reseller for allegedly using StorageTek's proprietary software to offer tape library services to end customers.

A judge is allowing StorageTek's complaint that an outfit called Custom Hardware Engineering and Consulting Inc. tweaked software embedded in StorageTek's tape libraries in order to get access to the vendor's so-called Maintenance Code. That's the software that monitors the libraries internally and reports trouble to remote technicians. Normally, the code is accessible only to the vendor's personnel, so by using it the reseller allegedly violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"[StorageTek] has copyright registration certificates for virtually all versions of its Maintenance Code and has taken great pains to protect access thereto with a proprietary algorithm..." the court document states. "[D]efendants have circumvented its security measures and are using the Maintenance Code in their business as a third-party service provider..."

At press time, StorageTek spokesman Joe Fuentes acknowledged the progress of the injunction but hadn't gotten back to us on what the ruling could mean to other resellers. The news, however, points to a growing interest in remote management as a selling point for both storage vendors and third parties.

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