Three Questions for EMC

In the course of doing research for Computerworld's Knowledge Center on Storage, we interviewed Chuck Hollis, vice president of markets and products at Holliston, Mass.-based EMC Corp. Here are his answers to three of the key questions regarding enterprise data storage.

With IT budgets very tight, are there cost-cutting strategies for storage that IT managers should be considering? There's a five-step approach:

  • Consolidate the physical assets. Share storage.

  • Connect everything with networked storage.

  • Manage it ruthlessly with storage management tools.

  • Hold users accountable for what they're using.

  • Use that to justify the new technology you're bringing in.

    If you don't have that framework, you can't really make a case for bringing in any new technology.

Disaster recovery is suddenly being used to justify storage projects. Are you seeing more interest in replicating data over long distances? Yes, but it's nothing new. EMC has over 14,000 licensees of software that does storage-based replication. We've been doing it for over five years.

In a business sense, there are the haves and the have-nots. In certain industries it's not even a question of whether they need business continuity -- banks, telecommunications, airlines. They have to be up all the time and can never lose data. Then there's another group of industries where that IT priority competes with other IT priorities, such as fixing their ERP systems.

EMC has introduced the concept of "content-addressed storage" (CAS) for fixed content. What's that? Fixed content is content that doesn't change, or shouldn't change.

We're using the term content-addressed storage because there are a lot of technologies sniffing around this area, so we put a name on it. So you have your SAN, your NAS and your CAS.

SANs look at things as blocks. NAS looks as things as files. And with CAS, you look at things as content objects. That might be billing documents, SEC filings, contracts or e-mail attachments. As you look around an organization, you see that what they're getting crushed under is not necessarily transactional data; it's all this other stuff -- the legacy information. And IT departments are challenged to keep that information available. They have to protect its authenticity and spend as little as possible managing it.

Most storage architectures are for data that is changing. This [fixed] data doesn't change and it shouldn't change. It requires an entirely different storage architecture.

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