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Network Changes Afoot in EMC's Lines

Storage giant EMC (NYSE: EMC) is wading even farther into new business lines with the latest release of network management tools that bring more smarts to managing enterprise networks.

With the latest release of VoyenceControl 4.0, EMC is touting a platform “designed to help system administrators plan, update, fix and manage network change and configuration management issues,” especially the human error configuration problems that are often behind network issues.

The release could put EMC more in direct competition with systems vendors such as HP (NYSE: HPQ), who offer network management, but also helps the storage provider expand beyond its bread and butter hardware/storage roots into more software and services.

The VoyenceControl 4.0 release comes out of EMC's acquisition of Voyence last October for an undisclosed sum. Voyence specializes in network device configuration and systems that automate change, compliance and activations in an enterprise network.

EMC then integrated Voyence with Smarts, the management software specialist company it bought in 2005 for $260 million.

It all adds up to a product suite that uses a model-based approach to configuration management, said Bob Quillin, director of product marketing at EMC's RMSG (Resource Management Software) division. This is part of what EMC calls a closed-loop service orchestration strategy for data center automation.

"Model-based management changes how management is done, and it's more vendor neutral, Quillan told InternetNews.com. It's quicker to deploy and EMC "is the only network manager in the space to [provide] tools for standard configuration across the [network's] entire infrastructure," he said.

This means the more an administrator can close the loop [on network faults and fixes] with operational efficiency, the better managed the network is, he explained. The Smarts assets help identify the problem and where it is, and now Voyence can go in and fix it -– perhaps even bringing the network back to a previous state, or rolling back the configuration to a previous version so administrators can fix the problem.

"It’s a way to build understanding of the infrastructure that's out there," added Brian Lett, a senior product marketing manager with EMC, such as enabling compliance management while helping to prevent configuration errors, which account for more than their share of network problems that administrators care to admit.

Working with other network products

Some other features in the release include an Extensible Hybrid Model-Based Approach, which EMC said aligns with the model-based management capabilities of Smarts and EMC Application Discovery Manager (ADM). You might say that's code for ensuring it works with with other vendor products, especially Cisco's network products