Fujitsu Softek offers lifeline to BMC customers

Users left high and dry when storage software vendor BMC Software Inc. last month ended further development of a premier storage management product are about to be wooed by a small start-up backed by a multibillion-dollar parent company offering free software -- but they have to throw out old versions of BMC software.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Fujitsu Software Technology Corp., referred to informally as Fujitsu Softek, is offering BMC customers free installation of its Softek Storage Manager under a program it's calling "The Softek Rescue."

BMC announced last month that it would stop developing any new versions of its Patrol Storage Manager, a storage resource management (SRM) platform, because of increased competition in that marketplace and budgetary issues. The last version of that product was released in January (see story).

The Softek Rescue program is offering installation of Fujitsu Softek's software by Storage Networking Industry Association-certified technicians free of charge for the first 90 days, after which a maintenance fee is charged. There are no other hidden charges and no capacity-based pricing schemes, Fujitsu said. The changeout should take two to three hours, and the offer expires Sept. 30.

"BMC's sudden and unexplainable withdrawal from the [SRM] market casts a pall on the entire community of SRM product vendors as a whole," Steven Murphy, president and CEO at Fujitsu Softek, said in a statement to be released Monday. "Softek is throwing an application availability life preserver to businesses that were voted off the BMC Software storage management island."

BMC's Patrol Storage Manager led the marketplace two years ago in offering users a way to dynamically provision storage by tying its use into applications instead of the arrays themselves. The functionality became known as storage resource management and, when combined with policy engines, can automatically distribute capacity based on established policies.

Over the past year or so, SRM has been adopted by the industry's largest storage software vendors, including Veritas Software Inc., EMC Corp. and IBM. BMC had garnered about 130 enterprise customers of its SRM software.

William Toigo, CEO and managing partner of Toigo Partners International, a research firm in Dunedin, Fla., said Fujitu's offer to BMC customers should be taken seriously, though not without looking into similar products from vendors such as InterSAN Inc. in Scotts Valley, Calif., and CreekPath Systems Inc. in Longmont, Colo.

"The trick [for Fujitsu] is to drop something into place that will deliver an immediate ROI and promise a longer-term play for customers," Toigo said. "Fujitsu has backing of its mother company, and Fujitsu [Ltd.] isn't going to go away."

Although Fujitsu's software isn't as robust as BMC's, Toigo said, the company's small size and small install base will allow it flexibility in developing greater functionality quickly compared to more established players.

Dan Hoffmann, director of enterprise storage management at BMC, said users of Patrol Storage Manager will be fully supported around the clock until January 2005, so they shouldn't make any "rash decisions."

"Simply yanking out or displacing Patrol Storage Manager with another product may not be the best thing for our customers," he said. "A lot of our customers will extract more value out of our product over the next two years than they would by making a rash decision to replace it."

Hoffman also pointed out that Patrol Storage Manager is integrated with its Patrol suite of products, which manages everything from servers to networks.

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

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