RealTime IT News

EMC Pledges Information Lifecycle Management Plan

NEW YORK -- Data storage requires "evolutionary" technologies -- not those that are revolutionary.

That was the gospel EMC spread Wednesday, when executives detailed what they believe is the future of the data storage market lies and said it expects revenue growth rate to lie somewhere in the "mid-teens" at an analyst conference here.

Bolstered by a slew of acquisitions that shored up its storage management software and data archiving gaps, the Hopkinton, Mass.-based storage systems vendor highlighted its plan for information lifecycle management (ILM), which President and CEO Joseph Tucci said was the next step after solidifying its automated network storage plan.

ILM is a process in which an organization's data storage requirements are matched up with the proper storage assets to manage information from the time it is created to the time it is disposed of, or "cradle to grave" as many industry experts describe it.

Simply, it requires the ability to control where and how files, such as e-mail or spreadsheets, are housed in what manner of storage, such as tape or disk storage, using the proper combination of hardware systems and network software.

Industry experts say there is a handful of reasons why companies such as EMC and rivals IBM, HP and Hitachi Data Systems are racing to shore up their own lifecycle management strategies.

No reason looms larger than the explosion in the amount of digital information that needs to be stored -- and for specific lengths of time thanks to new government regulations in the wake of corporate accounting scandals. Enterprise Storage Group, a storage oriented research firm, estimates the glut of data grows some 50 percent every year.

Another issue that has cropped up to necessitate ILM is the increased demand for the stored data to be highly available -- that is, easy to be recalled. To make this possible, ESG said there needs to be improvements in how data is classified.

Long a provider of hardware systems for the high-end of the market, EMC in recent months has completed or embarked on great steps to rounding out its software provisions.

EMC took filled in major gaps in its ILM portfolio in June when it moved to acquire Legato Systems for $1.3 billion, giving it access to software for archiving e-mail and applications. This step followed EMC's acquisitions of Prisa Networks and Astrum Software earlier in 2003, which cemented the companies storage management software products.

Wednesday Tucci kicked off how EMC is evolving before paving the way for his staff of executives to outline how the company fared to date in its hardware platforms, software, and marketing and sales divisions.

Though long-time rivals, Tucci essentially declared war on IBM going forward by promising to compete not only on storage-oriented hardware, but on software and services as well.

Tucci said the requirements for data storage have drastically changed, and that EMC was mustering the means to take the sector from the early '90s technology direct attached storage where one was served by one array to one server. Now the number of servers to arrays has increased exponentially with the advent of networked storage.

With a firm ILM strategy and the right hardware and software platforms in place, Tucci said data transfers and recalls will occur in milliseconds in which the IT customer will have complete control.

EMC CFO Bill Teuber closed out the meeting by saying the company is on track to reach results detailed last month for the third quarter of 2003.

Looking forward, he said the company expects to meet revenue guidelines, with a growth rate targeted in the range of 13 to 17 percent range for the second half of 2003 and fiscal year 2004 compared to prior periods. Teuber said he expects gross margins will rise to 48 percent or more by the fourth quarter of 2004.

During a question and answer session after the session, Tucci answered questions straight-up, but back-pedaled when he was asked to speculate on or tip off future acquisitions now that most of the storage software companies have been snapped up by EMC and its rivals.