EMC 'Charges' Into Archives

New software could put a better handle on archives, but it could upset an apple cart or two

March 2, 2005

2 Min Read
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Software from EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) promises to give storage administrators a way to query and charge business users of Centera content-addressed storage (CAS) systems -- no matter what applications are on those systems (see EMC Unveils Centera Seek & Chargeback).

EMC's product announcement today covers two components: EMC Centera Seek and EMC Centera Chargeback Reporter. Seek searches Centera metadata, and Chargeback Reporter lets administrators link Centera storage to content from specific business units.

Hang on: What about all the other content-sifting wares available for Centera -- such as the KVS Enterprise Vault from Veritas Software Corp. (Nasdaq: VRTS), or EMC Software's own Documentum content management package?

No conflict, says EMC product marketing manager Steve Spataro. "Centera Seek and Chargeback are not competitive with those applications," he says. Instead, administrators, who may or may not also be using KVS or other tools, can simplify their lives by speeding up the process of querying any package that has metadata on a Centera platform, then linking that to a chargeback list. The admins, or other IT personnel, may be querying KVS or Documentum separately for entirely different business purposes.

EMC's announcement points to a growing need for tools that help IT parse the metadata associated with various storage archives. The need for these tools is getting more urgent as healthcare and legal regulations demand that a growing body of corporate data be stored for longer-than-ever periods of time.On the chargeback front, EMC is among the only archiving vendors to offer a tool for its own CAS system, according to Arun Taneja of the Taneja Group consultancy, but IT users want this, and competitors, such as Archivas Inc., DataCenter Technologies Inc. (DCT), and Permabit Inc. will probably be following suit with chargeback tools, he notes. Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) offers archive search tools with its HP StorageWorks Reference Information Storage System (RISS), acquired when HP bought Persist Technologies in 2003 (see HP to Acquire Persist Technologies).

Meanwhile, a lot of software vendors already offer storage chargeback and are likely to continue their development, including AppIQ Inc., Asigra Inc., and Softek Storage Solutions Inc., to name just a few.

Questions persist about EMC's latest market entry. While EMC denies the new software competes with other tools on Centera, industry observers maintain that a love/hate relationship's existed over Veritas's purchase last year of a key ILM tool for Centera (see No Brainer: Veritas Buys KVS).

Meanwhile, IT organizations may face some controversy about who's minding the email or data store. Arun Taneja says the business units and storage admins could tussle for ownership of archive metadata. That could make one product more dominant than another in a particular organization.

Bottom line? While demonstrating a growing need for tools that make sense of archived data, EMC's announcement also raises several unresolved issues.Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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