EMC Stakes SaaS Claim

Takes the wraps off first SaaS offering, but long-term roadmap still a question

January 23, 2008

3 Min Read
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EMC unveiled its first enterprise SaaS offering today and finally added flesh to the bones of its long-term services strategy using technology acquired when it bought Mozy for $76 million last year.

The vendor has now formally launched its software-as-a-service business unit and unveiled EMC Fortress, a technology platform, which provides centralized billing and metering for specific services.

"EMC Fortress is actually the platform that we're using for SaaS," says Harsha Ramalingan, vice president of products and operations with the SaaS business unit. The exec would not go into technology specifics, confirming only that Project Fortress is built from EMC's own intellectual property.

EMC gave the first hint of this strategy at its Innovation Day in Boston last fall, briefly describing its then-secret "Project Fortress" initiative, which aims to define security, authentication, billing, and usage tracking across SaaS applications.

The first of these applications is Mozy Enterprise, an online backup offering aimed at users looking to protect data held on desktops, laptops, and remote Windows Servers.Available today, Mozy Enterprise is priced at $5.25 per month per laptop and 70 cents per Gbyte per month. Users can also protect their Windows servers for $9.25 per server per month and $2.35 per Gbyte per month.

The vendor is already planning to roll out additional SaaS products on the "Fortress" technology, with Ramalingan somewhat vaguely describing a set of upcoming "trusted data services."

"Its a category that includes things like backup and recovery and archiving," he adds. "At this point, we're not ready to provide a timeline for additional services, but we will see more services in 2008 as we roll this out."

Backup has already been highlighted by EMC as a key part of its future strategy. Last April, CEO Joe Tucci outlined this plan at SNW, when he listed SaaS as a key focal point for upcoming EMC announcements, hinting that online backup would be at the heart of this effort.

EMC finds itself up against several vendors in this space, including Iron Mountain and Symantec, although specifics of the storage vendor's SaaS strategy still remain unanswered.At this stage, for example, it is unclear what relationship the vendor's top secret "Hulk" and "Maui" technologies will have to "Project Fortress", and it is still uncertain which specific services or applications will be rolled into EMC's SaaS platform.

EMC could also have its work cut out convincing users of the benefits of SaaS, despite clinching OEM deals with the likes of Verizon to support offerings such as MozyEnterprise.

User group Wikibon has already warned that EMC's SaaS success depends on its ability to tie multiple products into the service, and there is also a feeling that many CIOs and IT managers are taking steps to avoid software-as-a-service.

Last month, for example, Matthew Glotzbach, head of products at Google's Enterprise division, warned that many CIOs and IT managers still do not fully understand the technology.

EMC's Ramalingan tells Byte and Switch that these hurdles are not insurmountable. "As with any of these fundamental shifts that occur, it's a matter of education and it takes time for people to get comfortable with the idea," he says.Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • Iron Mountain Inc. (NYSE: IRM)

  • Symantec Corp.

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