Coming attractions: EMC screens its future at user confab

Thin provisioning, SaaS offerings, PowerPath encryption, archive services on tap

ORLANDO -- EMC Corp. executives discussed the plausibility of building a "mini storage array" for the average home, as well as the company's plan to add encryption technology to its PowerPath product line, at the EMC World user conference held here this week. In the short term, EMC officials noted, the company is focused on transforming its information management strategy by infusing its storage product set with new security technologies, thin provisioning capabilities and digital rights management functions.

For example, EMC later this year plans to release a beta version of its PowerPath tool for tuning storage-area networks (SAN) that adds encryption capabilities, noted EMC officials. Generally available in 2008, the product will use encryption technology from EMC's RSA Security Inc. unit for block-based storage systems, they said.

The company is evaluating its potential place in the consumer market as it keeps a very close eye on the popularity and storage implications of online behemoths such as Google Inc. and its YouTube Inc. social networking subsidiary, officials said.

EMC is very much engaged in the effort to weigh the revenue and technological repercussions of aggressively pursuing a consumer market it has long avoided, remarked Joseph Tucci, the company's chairman and CEO. "We're thinking about it. There are no big decisions yet, but I do think there's a [sizeable] play in the home for a storage mini array," said Tucci, who added that he remains convinced that in the near future, systems in the average middle-class home will be storing more than 1TB of information.

"We have not made a decision [yet]," Tucci continued. "The bigger decision is 'how?' We do not have expertise within EMC that understands the consumer market. You either build that expertise, buy that expertise or you can do what Intel did -- get your technology pumped inside of [partners'] technology."

Meanwhile, Tucci also noted that the company will soon launch its first software-as-a-service offerings. He said the first substantiation of the on-demand technology will likely be archiving or data vaulting, followed by some form of backup services.

Tucci also said that EMC is on track to launch its initial public offering for 10% of its VMware Inc. business unit. The company is also looking to offer managed storage and security services on top of the VMware virtualization platform to reach "the low-end of the market that EMC does not reach today," he said.

Officials also said that EMC Invista 2.0, set for release next month, will support twice the volume supported by the first version of the network storage virtualization technology. Along with increased availability and performance characteristics, the upgraded Invista will also feature integration with EMC's RecoverPoint (formerly Kashya) software, allowing the tool to utilize replication and continuous data protection technology.

Tucci said EMC will also broaden its fledgling low-price AX-100 line of storage arrays with the rollout of a new low-end storage box later this year, followed by a "significant raft" of portfolio announcements early in 2008.

Finally, EMC officials noted that the company will respond to announcements from competitors like Hitachi Data Systems Corp. by enabling thin provisioning on its Symmetrix DMX-3 arrays CX Clariion storage boxes in 2008.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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