Rivals EMC, IBM to Work Together

Though fierce enemies competing for real estate in the high-end storage
market, EMC and IBM Monday managed to put
aside their differences in the spirit if cooperative competition to position
themselves better to serve customers.

Though they have done so with other vendors, Hopkinton, Mass.’s EMC and
Armonk, N.Y.’s IBM have never exchanged application programming interfaces
(APIs) before.

Under this new licensing agreement, the companies will extend
interoperability and compatibility for their storage systems, servers and

The goal is to make it easier for customers to employ both EMC and IBM
products in the same storage environment, where compatibility and
heterogeneity are key attractions for enterprise customers looking to raise
return-on-investment while lowering total-cost-of-ownership.

Specifically, EMC and IBM have agreed on a framework for the exchange of
programming interfaces for their disk storage products, including interfaces
that conform with the Storage Management Initiative Specification
(SMI-S), a protocol for storage network interoperability that was formerly
known as Bluefin.

The two companies have also agreed upon a framework to extend their existing
cooperative support agreement to include a wider range of servers, storage
and software products, to support more rapid escalation and resolution
processes for issues arising in joint installations.

Lastly, IBM has licensed interfaces for its TotalStorage Enterprise Storage Server
to EMC to support its rival’s ability to make IBM zSeries mainframe features
compatible on its Symmetrix DMX storage systems, including Peer-to-Peer
Remote Copy and Extended Remote Copy (XRC) functions. IBM’s FlashCopy,
Multiple Allegiance, and Parallel Access Volumes (PAV) will also be
supported on Symmetrix systems per the agreement.

Chuck Hollis, vice president of platforms marketing at EMC, said that by licensing IBM’s zSeries technologies, EMC’s Symmetrix systems will appear as IBM’s Shark storage system does in an enterprise environment. Hollis said EMC had performed mainframe compatibility testing for years, noting that this formalization will satisfy customers.

“What this allows us to do is provide more support for mainframe customers through the exchange of management interfaces,” Hollis told internetnews.com during a call.

While not an out-and-out exchange of application programming interfaces (APIs), Hollis said the two vendors will swap command line interfaces (CLIs), which are user interfaces for a computer’s operating system or an application in which the user responds to a visual prompt by typing in a command on a specified line, receives a response back from the system, and then enters another command.

IBM will gain undisclosed licensing revenue from the agreement, said Roland Hagan, IBM vice president of storage marketing, on a conference call.

“Our customers are demanding better interoperability among vendors in the storage space,” Hagan told internetnews.com. “The are depending on us to hel them find ways to spend less and less time on on the underlying complexity in the plumbing.”

Hagan said disaster recovery is one of the main areas of focus for the technology pact.

“Customers now have an assurance that we are working torgther actively to support both environments,” Hagan continued, noting that previous collaboration between the companies was on how to solve point-to-point heterogeneity issues.

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