Storage That Phones Home

A handful of remote service automation providers take aim at storage

April 24, 2007

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

A company whose products are used by EMC and Quantum to enable remote service and support of their gear is eyeing enterprise customers. And it's not alone.

Axeda offers software for remote monitoring of storage gear (and other electronic equipment) for support staff back at EMC and Quantum facilities. Using software agents embedded in Windows, Linux, or Unix, Axeda tracks the performance of tape drives, disk drives, and other gear over SSL links, triggering notification to the vendors if something goes wrong on a customer site. It also coordinates updates and patches on remote equipment.

"We're happy with Axeda," says EMC spokesman Rick Lacroix. EMC is using Axeda's DRM product for its EMC Secure Remote Support Gateway. Lacroix can't elaborate on pricing or the future use of Axeda's wares.

Quantum uses Axeda's software to power its StorageCare Guardian software solution, which lets Quantum track the setup and status of remote customer tape libraries and disk arrays, reporting back to Quantum HQ and storing details for future reports.

The two high-profile storage suppliers are just a fraction of business for Axeda, however. The vendor, whose typical deal starts at about $300,000 and up, has specialized for years in remote support automation tools for a range of businesses, most notably medical equipment suppliers. But VP of marketing Brian Anderson says Axeda sees its IT options growing, particularly since the vendor's return-on-investment pitch includes a reduction in sending live field engineers to diagnose problems and perform routine maintenance.Based in Foxboro, Mass., privately funded Axeda has about 65 employees and 60 customers.

Some ITers won't see anything exciting about replacing their "phone home" modems with software. Still, they can't deny a growing interest in all kinds of automation products for data centers, and in closer monitoring and control of storage hardware.

There may be more opportunities among suppliers of remote services, particularly "software as a service" offerings.

An Axeda competitor, NextNine, expresses specific interest in growing its IT clientele, particularly among service providers.

"NextNine definitely sees its market expanding into the IT equipment vendor space and the convergence of voice and data applications creates a natural target audience. Service providers are beginning to rely on more remote-capable support methods in order to manage their growing customer base," states Eric Murphy, NextNine's VP of business development, in an email to Byte and Switch today.NextNine has about 50 employees and 15 customers, including GE Healthcare, Invensys, Allscripts, Motorola, Comverse, and Openwave. One of these, Motorola, invested an undisclosed sum in September 2006, along with Ascend Technology Ventures, Infinity Venture Capital Fund, Ofer Hi-Tech, Yozma Venture Capital Group, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Private Equity, and Redwood Venture Partners.

One analyst sees the automation portion of the equation as most compelling. "IDC believes that automation technologies are becoming increasingly important for support organizations," wrote Dan Yachin, research director, IDC EMEA Emerging Technologies, in a prepared statement in February this year. "This way, automation capabilities can allow support providers to scale up to meet increasing customer demand due to the growing reliance on and complexity of IT environments."

Not everyone's convinced these remote support tools are the way for IT vendors and their customers to go.

Still, the great mass of IT users and their suppliers are angling for better solutions, and it's likely they'll be considering these kinds of automation tools for the mix.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Quantum Corp.0

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights