In a bid to bolster its software arsenal, EMC has released several new data-protection and SAN management packages while acquiring two companies that promise to flesh out the storage giant's information life-cycle management (ILM) portfolio.
The moves are the latest in EMC's efforts to continue expanding its software business, which could prove pivotal to the company's growth moving forward, particularly as hardware prices continue to come down and margins for commercial gear diminish.
The announcements individually are incremental, though significant, steps that promise to help EMC gain momentum in software, which represented 37 percent of EMC's total revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The opportunity couldn't be better for the storage giant and its partners, particularly as Symantec busily absorbs Veritas. For example, EMC officials point out that Symantec's year-over-year data-protection growth, including software and maintenance, was 2 percent, while EMC's was 39 percent. In addition, EMC's backup-and-recovery revenue for the most recent quarter, standing at $50 million, dwarfs that of Symantec's at $284 million.
And just weeks after Symantec rolled out a new version of Backup Exec with support for continuous data protection (CDP), EMC became the latest vendor to jump on the bandwagon with its RecoverPoint CDP software.
But, unlike some of its rivals, EMC also is focusing on real-time availability of enterprise data from transaction-oriented systems, while BackUp Exec and IBM Tivoli's new CDP for Files focus on providing continuous backups of files.
EMC says RecoverPoint was designed for use in data centers and provides application-aware protection to enterprise-business applications across multiple operating systems. RecoverPoint coordinates recovery of information from groups of applications, which lets administrators restart applications from the same point in time--an approach that should provide faster resumption of operations, says George Simons, CTO of EMC's data-protection software group.
Simons says customers, on average, take snapshots every four to six hours. RecoverPoint tracks all writes to production systems in real time to a separate storage node designated for recovery. Because the customer is generating continuous streams using CDP, he or she can go back to any point in time.
EMC is shipping RecoverPoint this quarter, but won't offer it through channel partners until early next year. Marc Dovoisin, who heads up solution provider Dimension Data's EMC practice, says he expects demand for CDP solutions to ramp rapidly.
"I think continuous data protection will be commonplace in the IT industry in a few years," Dovoisin says. "The way people protect all their data will be done that way."
In addition, EMC has updated its Networker software, which centralizes backup-and-recovery operations. Networker 7.3, released this quarter, offers support for multiple retention policies--useful when there are multiple backup targets, such as disk and tape drives, with different policies for the various media.
Networker 7.3 also allows multiple backups to a single target device; features increased performance, allowing, for example, an administrator to run concurrent restores; has an improved user interface, and better authentication and security, including 256-bit AES encryption and network address-translation firewall support; and is easier to operate.
"That's particularly important for the channel," Simons says.
EMC has also rolled out Backup Advisor, a new tool that provides reporting and analysis for backup processes. The software gathers information on an entire backup infrastructure, including software, drives and operating systems, and helps identify problems that may exist in the process. Backup Advisor is suitable for detecting problems before they occur and helping organizations meet service-level agreements, according to Simons.
Finally, for Windows replication, EMC has updated its RepliStor replication software. RepliStor 6.1 adds Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) support, letting customers create and recover multiple point-in-time copies of file system and application data. That will let customers recover Exchange 2003 servers more quickly.
In addition to all its upgrades on the data-availability side, EMC is looking to bolster its ILM portfolio. EMC's goal is to link disparate silos of data from creation to grave. Looking to augment its Documentum suite, EMC says it will acquire Captiva, a longtime partner, for approximately $275 million, and Acartus, for an undisclosed sum.
The acquisition of Captiva gives EMC a key component of the document life-cycle process: capturing paper-based documents and digitizing them to be incorporated into the Documentum system.
"Despite the promise of the paperless office, we are not there," says Whitney Tidmarsh, EMC Software's vice president of solutions marketing. "There are a large number of businesses and industries that heavily rely on paper."
Acartus, meanwhile, addresses the computer-generated output of data, such as ERP-generated reports