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

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Richard Ptak, a managing partner with IT firm Ptak, Noel & Associates,
said EMC has been trying to expand its infrastructure management
capabilities for a couple of years now and, with this release, crossed a
milestone.

The enhancements in the most recent release “addressed network
infrastructure and operations management problems at multiple levels. This
includes providing a much more user friendly and information-rich user
interface that means that less skill is needed to manage the
infrastructure,” he told InternetNews.com. “It makes it easier to
perform diagnostic analytics without having to resort to creating scripts.”

EMC is clearly fleshing out a real management portfolio, added Dennis
Drogseth, a vice president and analyst with research firm Enterprise
Management Associates.

“The history of EMC has been about storage capabilities, and has been
somewhat hardware centric with a focus on management and control,” he told
InternetNews.com. EMC’s sweet spot, I believe, is “combining
operational insights with automation and looking at infrastructure as a
whole. It’s a huge shift in terms of the value they can bring to their customers.”

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