EMC's Storage Cloud Emerges

The first hints of EMC's Cloud computing strategy are fueled by talk of a deal with SAP UPDATED 6:30 PM 2/15

February 14, 2008

3 Min Read
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EMC has reportedly teamed up with SAP to boost its software-as-a-service (SaaS) strategy, secretly developing a hosting service called "EMC Cloud."

A Reuters report today cited SAP board member Doug Merritt as describing EMC's plans to host his firm's software on its storage, which would then be made available to users via the Internet.

EMC spokesman Todd Cadley refused to comment on the vendor's cloud computing plans, although at least one analyst told Byte and Switch that an EMC/SAP partnership is quite possible.

"It's very evident that this is a key piece of interest [for EMC]," says William Hurley, president of analyst firm Breakaway Information Group. "About two and a half years ago, EMC specifically set up an internal grid group that was looking at the feasibility of achieving exactly this type of offering."

SAP subsequently downplayed its Reuters comments, explaining that the firms are in "early stage talks" and that no agreement has been made, although the fact that discussions are happening at all underlines the momentum behind SaaS.Amazon has already tapped into demand for hosted services with its S3 offering, and EMC's archrival IBM unveiled plans for its own "Blue Cloud" technology in November.

Built on top of IBM's BladeCenter devices, Tivoli software, and Linux, the first "Blue Cloud" offerings are expected to be available in the spring, with the vendor building a mainframe-based solution later this year.

Precise details of the technology behind the EMC Cloud have not yet been revealed, although it seems likely that the vendor's recently announced "Fortress" initiative will play a part in delivering services to users.

Described as the foundation of the vendor's SaaS strategy, "Fortress" essentially provides centralized billing and metering for specific Internet-based services, the first of which is Mozy's online backup solution.

It is still unclear whether the vendor's top secret "Hulk" and "Maui" technologies will form part of EMC's Cloud backbone, although Breakaway Information Group's Hurley says that the vendor has been scoping other potential technologies."They have been talking to startup companies like Yotta Yotta and other firms in terms of either licensing or acquiring technology to deliver this service," he says.

Yotta Yotta, which sells network storage appliances, is already deployed within the multi-Pbyte SAN at Internet giant AOL and touts its GSX 3000 hardware as a way to offer storage virtualization across multiple sites.

That is just the kind of capability EMC could be after, given the vendor's eagerness to break into the Web 2.0 space, evident in CEO Joe Tucci's determination to broaden the firm's reach beyond its traditional enterprise customer base.

EMC isn't alone. With a question mark still hanging over traditional enterprise spending, more and more storage suppliers are looking for new revenue opportunities.

"We have what are generally considered Web 1.0 companies leading the Web 2.0 charge," says Dave Vellante, senior storage analyst at the Wikibon research and advisory group. "The Mozy acquisition was designed to get EMC into this business that was a time-to-market play, for sure."The analyst warns nonetheless that shifting to the SaaS model is easier said than done, which could explain a potential partnership with a vendor like SAP. "When a big company like EMC is going from what is a 100 percent in-premise model to a blended model of in-premise and SaaS, the organizational challenge is substantial," he says. "Clearly, SAP has more experience of this than EMC -- with its MySAP and competition with Salesforce.com."

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  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • SAP AG

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