EMC Unveils Grid Gameplan

Buys IP from business analytics firm Acxiom as basis for 'grid middleware'

January 6, 2006

2 Min Read
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EMC is edging towards grid computing with todays $30 million purchase of grid software technology from Acxiom Corporation. (See EMC Buys Grid Tech.)

Grids have largely been the domain of Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Sun Microsystems, although EMC has quietly plotted its entrance while moving beyond traditional storage in the past year.

EMC and Axciom have actually constructed a multi-faceted partnership. EMC is paying for Acxiom’s grid software, but the two companies will jointly develop and sell a hosted grid service that Acxiom offers. Eventually, they will integrate systems, software, and services into a non-hosted grid product. EMC will then sell the grid product, while Acxiom continues to sell the hosted services.

"We will jointly market the hosted solution while we are building out the real solution that we wish to deliver -- that’s a product that installs beyond the customer firewall," says Ian Baird, EMC's CTO of grid and utility computing and head of its new grid incubation unit.

At its analyst day in August, EMC CEO Joe Tucci said the company would continue to move outside the traditional storage realm (See EMC Casts Wider Net.) Network management, security, and services are among the new areas that EMC has targeted. Baird says recent EMC acquisitions such as server virtualization startup VMware, network systems management vendor Smarts, and file virtualization company Rainfinity provide pieces that will be used in its grid strategy. (See EMC Completes VMware Acquisition, EMC Buys Smarts, and EMC to Buy Rainfinity.)“This is a clear indication that EMC is moving into the information management space,” says John Webster, an analyst at Data Mobility Group. “This is one of the bases they’re looking to cover. “

But Webster believes Axciom’s software isn’t purely grid technology. “I’m not sure I’d call it quote-unquote grid. It’s built on distributed grid technology, but it’s more about business intelligence or what used to be called data warehousing,” he says.

According to Baird, that’s just the beginning. EMC’s strategy is to have its non-hosted product ready in two years, then it will start developing other applications for markets such as financial services and life sciences to sit on top of its grid middleware.

“We’re buying generic IP that doesn’t have to be specific to the business intelligence space,” he says. “The grid is a middleware layer that applications sit on top of, and the applications define that grid.”

Acxiom built its grid for business analytics applications because it fits its overall business that include customer data integration, database services, IT outsourcing, consulting, and analytics.Besides Baird, EMC has another grid veteran in CTO Jeff Nick, who headed IBM’s grid computing strategy during part of his 24-year career with Big Blue. (See Grid Networking.) Nick joined EMC in September 2004.

— Dave Raffo, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

Organizations mentioned in this article:

  • Acxiom Corp. (Nasdaq: ACXM)

  • Data Mobility Group

  • World Cellular Information Service (WCIS)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • Sun Microsystems Inc.

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