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EMC's Information Life-Cycle Management

Legato: Strategic Sea Change

Until 2003, EMC was true to its storage roots. Perhaps the company's most audacious move was to offer hardware with Fibre Channel and ATA drives in the same storage cabinet. EMC has been all about providing top-performing, high-capacity systems and charging a healthy premium for them. These acquisitions therefore signal a significant change: a move to an ILM strategy.

ILM's fundamental tenet is that the value of data changes over time, and that the software that manages data needs to account for its intrinsic value to the organization. Although this premise seems obvious, no data-management software addresses it well. To really provide ILM, EMC must deliver on virtualized storage (seamlessly moving data to various storage media without end users' involvement), and a major element of that is management, says Mark Lewis, EMC's executive vice president for open software.

Delivering on virtualized storage management only within the EMC product line will not be interesting to EMC's base of large corporate and institutional clients with heterogeneous environments, Lewis says. The last thing these customers need is to run more than one vendor's interpretation of an ILM system. That understanding led EMC to this buying spree, Lewis says. Legato brings a highly respected, heterogeneous portfolio of storage applications, with know-how in backup and restore, data replication and archiving, as well as specific applications for such things as e-mail data retention--a subject near and dear to most corporate legal counsel. Some of these more vertical applications overlap with Documentum's software, but all in all, Legato gives EMC what it needs. EMC's infrastructure software story now stands in contrast to that of Sun, HP and IBM, which support their proprietary systems first and add third-party storage support later, or depend on third parties to provide software like Legato's.

The Legato purchase will bring new customers and new sales channels to EMC. Lewis says that though R&D teams will be integrated (meaning Legato will take over the development of the few products that overlapped with EMC's original product line), Legato will maintain its management, sales, marketing and support staffing for now. That's a nod to just how little experience EMC has had selling through the channel--which may not bode well for any attempt to upsell Legato customers with additional EMC products, since EMC is so used to the direct sale.

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