EMC Spouts VOIP Virtualization

EMC's Mark Lewis pushes virtualization, predicts end of backup as we know it

November 19, 2005

3 Min Read
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Virtualization and systems management software could help ease the pain of users deploying voice over IP (VOIP) on standard enterprise networks, predicts Mark Lewis, chief development officer of EMC.

Speaking at Pacific Crests Future of Computing Conference in Boston today, Lewis underlined the challenge facing firms as they roll out their VOIP infrastructures. Users, he explained, are relying on “standard networks with any old type of switch, any old type of router.” These infrastructures, he added, are certainly not the “hardened networks,” used by telecom firms.

Against this backdrop, hardware failures are a very real possibility, according to Lewis, who urged users to think about how this could affect their storage arrays and disk drives. “When you have a complex environment like this and a switch fails, all of those systems will start reporting errors.”

But could systems management software really make sense of this mess? Lewis thinks so. ”If I have a switch, or an array, or a disk drive, I need to understand all of the relationships,” he said. “All of the apps that could and would be impacted.”

Of course, there was some method in Lewis’s madness today. Earlier this year EMC ponied up $260 million for systems management specialist Smarts which correlates data on disparate devices in a network. (See EMC Gets Smarts and EMC Buys Smarts.)Lewis did not get into the specifics of how virtualization, which decouples hardware and software, will help resolve users’ VOIP headaches. He did predict that, “virtualization will occur at every level where there is hardware.” Thus implying that switches and routers could be added to servers and storage as part of the virtual mix.

Jon Oltsik, senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group believes this is a real possibility. “I think that virtualization plays a part in everything,” he said. “There are now more virtual algorithms for switch failovers and for new routing paths.”

That said, Oltsik thinks a major storage vendor like EMC is unlikely to go its own way in tackling VOIP. “They could do some joint OEM and manufacturing work with someone like Cisco or 3Com,” he explained. “That wouldn’t surprise me.”

Lewis also used his Beantown speech to put the boot into conventional backup offerings. “The traditional backup product on the market today, we believe, will essentially go away.” The exec added that these products will eventually form part of broader services offerings.

EMC, according to Lewis, is working on “common recovery management services,” which will replace individual backup products with a single management system, extending across an entire IT infrastructure. “Traditional products that do a single function will become simply services in this environment,” he said.Merging various backup products into a single service could significantly ease the strain on users, according to an IT professional at an insurance company in the Midwest, who asked not to be named. "Getting rid of the point solutions makes more sense. You might, for example, have different backups for mainframes or servers."

Tying all this together will make life much easier, according to the user. "You only have one system to manage instead of three or four."

As far as backups are concerned, Lewis added more flesh to the bones of the storage management message in his keynote at last month’s Storage Networking World conference. (See EMC's Lewis Eyes Storage Symphony.)

But the exec was decidedly less forthcoming when questioned about EMC’s future acquisition plans. The vendor has been on an M&A tear, snapping up a slew of companies over recent months, including Acartus, Captiva and Rainfinity.(See EMC Acquires Acartus , EMC Captures Captiva, and EMC to Buy Rainfinity.)

”We will use the full force of EMC to get where we want to go,” replied Lewis, somewhat vaguely. “That includes partnerships, that includes OEMing, and that includes acquisitions.”— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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