EMC Remains VMwary

Don't expect VMware and Invista to be integrated anytime soon

May 18, 2005

3 Min Read
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NEW ORLEANS -- EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) isn't rushing to integrate VMware into its storage products.

At the official launch of the company's Invista storage virtualization product here, EMC executives say VMware will remain at an arms length from EMC storage products, both from a technology and business standpoint.

While server virtualization can require more capacity and virtualization on the storage side, the technologies remain distinct. VMware software partitions Intel-based servers into separate virtual machines that run applications separately. Storage virtualization pools data to make it easier to manage.

Still, when EMC acquired VMware in December of 2003, the expectation was that it would eventually integrate server virtualization into its storage products (see EMC Gobbles VMware). EMC has not met that expectation.

This doesn't mean EMC isn't high on VMware. CEO Joe Tucci kicked off EMC’s annual Tech Summit on Monday by singing the praises of server virtualization (see EMC Unveils Invista). Tucci pointed out that VMware generated $218 million in revenue last year, and said he expected a run rate of nearly $400 million in 2005 after a strong first quarter (see EMC Growth Continues).“Server virtualization is here today, and very primetime in 2005,” Tucci said. “I don’t think we’ll see a lot of revenues from storage virtualization this year. Server virtualization, yes. Storage virtualization, no.”

Unlike the other companies EMC bought during its $3.5 billion 2003 shopping spree -- Documentum and Legato -- and companies it has acquired since then, EMC runs VMware as a separate division apart from its software group. It has refrained from integrating its technology or business into its storage software.

Now would seem like the ideal time for a matchup, considering EMC’s big push into storage virtualization with Invista. Yet it appears EMC purchased VMware more for its business value than to integrate its technology into storage products, and business reasons dictate keeping VMware technology separate.

For one thing, VMware is sold largely through server companies such as Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL), Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), and IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). HP and IBM are also EMC storage rivals and would balk at EMC using the VMware technology for competitive storage advantage (see Storage Makes Strange Bedfellows). Better for EMC to use their valuable channels than to risk animosity in a market it doesn't dominate.

Howard Elias, EMC’s executive VP for corporate marketing, says EMC might do limited integration of VMware technology in storage -- such as using virtual machines in conjunction with its SRDF replication software for failover. It would also make the same capabilities available to IBM and HP, he says.If EMC integrates VMware and Invista at all, Elias says it would allow IBM and HP to integrate their storage virtualization products (including IBM's SAN Volume Controller) as well.

But is EMC really likely to do that? In classic multispeak, here's what Elias says: “We have no issues doing tight integration with VMware and Invista if it would not preclude anyone else from doing the same thing... But we would not do anything technology-wise or packaging-wise that others could not do.”

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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