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EMC to Tout Integration, ILM Progress

At EMC's meeting with analysts in New York City last August, CEO Joseph Tucci told attendees to expect a lot of activity from the storage vendor directed toward furthering its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy.

This time around, at its annual analyst meeting Thursday in New York, analysts said attendees can expect more of the same, but that probably more specific details about the integration of the company's three major acquisitions of last year would emerge.

The Hopkinton, Mass., company acquired archiving specialist Legato Systems for $1.3 billion, enterprise content management provider Documentum for $1.7 billion and server virtualization provider VMware for $635 million within a six-month span.

The aggressive purchasing sparked a whirlwind of press and buzz around the company. Some analysts praised EMC for diversifying its revenue streams while others were critical, fearing the integration of disparate companies would be too tricky.

But the vendor is intent on building and offering a complete platform of tiered storage for ILM, a practice that has kicked around the industry for awhile but one that EMC lit a fire under.

Just as service-oriented architectures are the latest craze in distributed computing, ILM is being touted by several vendors as a solid approach to so-called "cradle to grave" management, or shepherding information or data through various courses of its existence, from creation to archiving, to its ultimate purging from a computer system.

EMC maintains the key to a proper ILM platform includes several layers of automated storage to ferret out data on a network. The company showed significant steps in its ILM efforts earlier this week, unveiling its Proven compliance software and other offerings, results of Legato and Documentum product integration.

This week, Tucci and company are likely to unveil additional product news highlighting EMC's integration efforts, according to those familiar with the company's plans, such as Enterprise Storage Group's Peter Gerr.

"From a financial standpoint, they're going to drive home their continued execution and return to profitability and growth of the company and all of the segments," Gerr said. "They've also gotten some good market share headlines from other analyst firms."

Sageza Research Director Charles King agreed.

"I have to expect that they're pretty happy with the IDC numbers from last week, so I imagine they'll spend a good amount of time talking about that," said King, speaking of the market research firm's recent storage statistics for the first quarter 2004.

EMC took the leadership position from HP in the external disk storage systems market, with 26 percent year-over-year revenue growth for a 20.2 percent revenue market share in the first quarter, according to IDC.

The company didn't stop there, leading the external RAID market with 22 percent revenue share to HP's 16.9 percent. EMC also held onto the top spot in the total networked storage market with 28.5 percent revenue share, followed by HP with 22.8 percent and IBM with 10.5 percent.

That news bodes well for EMC, which, as a maker of storage hardware, lost market share, as the industry commoditized and rivals IBM , HP and Hitachi Data Systems built boxes just as well.

In other areas, Gerr said he expects EMC to underscore the continued success of the Dell relationship, but will also point to the non-Dell channel, including the AX100 and NetWin 110, which recently came out.

"Although Dell is selling a version of those products, those products will also help EMC in the care and feeding of its non-Dell channel," Gerr said. "I think it's an important move in terms of EMC moving into a new market, which is the small- and medium-sized business, or even the entry-level market. That's a market that traditionally is not aware of EMC as a supplier. It will be interesting to see the success of those products."

Gerr also said it's likely EMC won't have news regarding the integration of its VMware acquisition until later this year. But he does think EMC might hint at future architectures or platform enhancements for its high-end Symmetrix or mid-range CLARiiON systems.

Despite the seemingly successful integration thus far, Gerr had one parting question to sum up EMC's current status: "I wonder how they are going to build a bridge from where they are in terms of being a systems seller to being a provider of complete ILM solutions."