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EMC Takes The Offensive In The Storage Wars

With its January blizzard of announcements, EMC has launched an across-the-board offensive. By doing so, the company is broadening its horizons as a wide spectrum information infrastructure company. That does not mean it has neglected its storage roots--far from it. Announcements at both the enterprise-class and midrange storage system levels have opened new fronts for EMC to contend against competitors.

Enterprise-class (and other) storage announcements tend to be about product refreshes, where the new models in the solution family are typically bigger (in capacity), faster (in performance) and more cost effective (in the sense of having a better ROI than the previous generation to encourage migration to the latest and greatest). That is not EMC's emphasis.

Instead, with these latest announcements, EMC aims to make Symmetrix VMAX the "world's smartest storage array" by leveraging software "intelligence," a.k.a. "smarts," to improve system features and performance and deliver measurable value to customers.

How can this be, and why should customers care? For starters, an IDC study sponsored by EMC in 2010 showed a 44X information growth over this decade while IT head count remains flat. The implication is clear that if the ability to manage this stunning growth has not already gotten beyond the ability of humans, it soon will. That means that managing storage can no longer simply be business as usual. And the key is not to just make management processes simpler (which is always a good thing), but rather to make the management of storage "smarter," in the sense of solutions multiplying the ability of human administrators many-fold.

The key to EMC's strategy, which it announced last year, is what the company calls Virtual Storage. Virtual Storage has three fundamental pillars: automation, storage federation and virtualization enablement.

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