EMC rolls out 'metered' storage

The storage vendor is pushing storage-on-demand to Global 200 customers

EMC Corp. said today that it's targeting hundreds of Global 2,000 customers for a new remote automated storage monitoring appliance that would allow them to install added standby storage and network bandwidth capacity -- while paying only for what they use.

EMC said its OpenScale Automated Billing appliance will be offered as part of its OpenScale storage asset and financial management program. First introduced in 1999, the program has seen little success due to its manual reporting process.

OpenScale now uses a server with software installed on-site that acts as a meter to detect and monitor every storage device and application being used on a storage-area network (SAN), including capacity, switch ports and storage software licenses.

Jim Hull, vice president for computer network services at Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard International Inc., has about 300TB of EMC storage in a SAN and 50TB of direct-attached storage from Sun Microsystems Inc. He said several vendors, including IBM and Sun, are offering different types of on-demand capacity. But he likes EMC's program because a company pays only for what it uses.

"They want to sell you a new frame and fully populate it so that you pay for it as you use it. To me that's a great model, assuming the original price of the additional frame on the floor is the same as if you I bought it with only 10TB," he said, referring to a server that wouldn't be fully configured. "The question I have for EMC is, What about frames I have on floor now?"

Hull was referring to about eight EMC Symmetrix servers he owns with open disk slots that he'd rather fill with spare capacity than buy a new server.

EMC said it won't be charging any fees for standby capacity.

Bill Raftery, EMC's vice president of global financial services, said his company's largest customers complain that the complicated processes surrounding procurement and deployment of additional storage can require more than a dozen people to sign off on order forms, take anywhere from six to nine months and cost million of dollars for large storage users.

In fact, Hull said that process normally takes him about 60 days.

Hewlett-Packard Co. currently offers metered standby capacity on its storage arrays but charges 75% of the lease price for the entire capacity. For example, if a customer purchased 12TB of storage but needed only 8TB at the beginning of a standard three-year lease contract, it would pay 75% of the lease price for 12TB on a monthly basis and would be charged additional fees only as it used more of the storage. If the customer didn't use the full 12TB at the end of three years, it still wouldn't be charged for it, Wright said.

IBM offers standby capacity on its mainframe systems, something Hull uses and said is very convenient.

EMC said OpenScale provides automated billing for its Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra arrays, its Connectrix switches, and its TimeFinder and Symmetrix Remote Data Facility software.

The company actually launched OpenScale as a program in 1999 to a small number of customers. It represented only prepositioned storage capacity and keeping track of how much was being used was a highly manual process that required 100 field representatives.

Tony Prigmore, an analyst at The Enterprise Storage Group Inc. in Milford, Mass., said EMC isn't alone in its storage monitoring technology. But the technology does represent an early version of utility-type models of computing. "I don't know that EMC's approach works for everyone in the market, but it's an important step for a certain type of client ... serious consumers of storage," Prigmore said.

"Upfront, we're looking at customers running 50TB or more," Raftery said. "That represents hundreds of customers. We believe those customers will be the most viable for this service."

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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