Big Shifts for EMC Into Server Management

What does a dominant storage provider do when it already enjoys major adoption with its bread and butter storage products? If it’s a storage giant such as EMC (NYSE: EMC), it moves into a new direction with server management software and analytics offerings.

That’s what observers see with EMC’s release of two new products, Server Configuration Manager and Configuration Analytics Manager. The software suites signal a strategic shift into server management for the Hopkinton, Mass.-based company, which also counts security giant RSA and virtualization leader VMWare under its corporate roof.

But it also makes sense to augment its storage lines, given all the analytics and configuration management acquisitions that EMC has snapped up in the last few years.

The two products launched Wednesday are designed help customers manage servers, networks, applications and, yes, storage. It makes no difference whether the systems are physical, virtual or mix of the two, EMC officials told

They’re all aimed at extending EMC’s footprint in change, configuration and compliance management, Bob Quillan, a vice president and product manager for EMC, explained to

The first product, Server Configuration Manager (SCM), helps users automatically discover and maintain detailed server configuration data, Quillan said. A key selling feature of this is what EMC calls its
“right-click fix” way of fixing problems.

The second release, Configuration Analytics Manager (CAM), is about tracking configuration changes over time and then keeping tabs on those changes. Like SCM, it also leverages other EMC acquisitions, such as VoyenceControl, EMC’s network change, configuration, and compliance software, and its existing Server Configuration Manager product.

The release comes at a time when server and systems management providers are piling into database management to capture a piece of growth, and help customers save datacenter costs.

The hope is that the software packages can help customers address a host of problems that bedevil many IT shops. One is the consistency of configuration errors (which is a nice way to say that IT guys often screw up system configurations). The cost of fixing these errors can take up as much as 60 percent of IT staff’s time, Quillan said.

The other major issue is known as configuration “drift” — when compliance or policy errors on one side of the network are knocked out of whack by a network tweak elsewhere. Call it the butterfly effect in the datacenter.

“This fits into the into overall strategy of EMC,” Quillan said of the new direction that EMC is taking. “From a strategy perspective, [EMC has] always had strong storage and network management. Now, we’re adding server management, which helps to complete that view of the datacenter configuration.

Then again, software is the hot ticket in any technology market these days — whether it’s software as a service, or software that can further automate systems and save money for corporations, said Dennis Drogseth, a vice president with Enterprise Management Associates, a research firm.

EMC has “invested widely from a tech perspective,” he told These products are where acquired technology all comes together, he noted, citing the Smarts
acquisition for analytics tools, Voyence for network configuration management, and Infra
, which offers configuration management database capabilities.

EMC “is piecing together automation and control for the infrastructure overall, in which storage is another part,” Drogseth said. “It’s a different business from their historical storage business, but it has the potential to be a very smart move for them.” In these economic times, he added, enterprise customers are more likely to invest in management control systems software that helps them cut their operational overhead.

In a statement accompanying EMC’s release, Tracy Corbo, senior analyst at IDC, echoed Drogseth’s comments about software growth. “Software that enables companies to automate various IT processes is the key to being competitive in today’s market.”

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