EMC Corp. has talked publicly for months about its intention to round out its information lifecycle management (ILM) strategy with a full line of tape products. The six million dollar question is, which tape company will it choose?
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The Hopkinton, Mass., based storage company has frequently been linked with all three key players in this sector: Advanced Digital Information Corp., Quantum Corp. and StorageTek Corp. And for what it's worth the rumor du jour pegs StorageTek as the likely winner.
"Flights back and forth between EMC's headquarters in Hopkinton, Mass., and StorageTek's home turf in Louisville, Colo., are pretty frequent these days," said a well-known industry analyst who declined to be named.
To add fuel to the fire, EMC's chief executive officer Joe Tucci recently said at the company's technical summit in Orlando, "I used to play in tape, now I'm going to sell tape." To date, EMC has resold Quantum's tape libraries as EMC Data Manager, but has said very little about this arrangement of late.
EMC does, on the other hand, pay constant lip service to its ILM portfolio but so far this is exclusive to disk systems. Other ILM approaches, however, include tape as a storage tier below disk for archival data, or information that is rarely accessed. StorageTek and IBM are strong proponents of this approach.
During a technology briefing at its Cambridge, Mass., offices last week, Rich Lechner, vice president of storage systems at IBM, said, "If you don't have a tape strategy, I don't know how you can have a realistic conversation about data lifecycle management."
For end users, it has often meant looking elsewhere for products. Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc, an Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) and StorageTek user, was interested to hear what EMC might do in this area. "If they could move data automatically from disk to tape and if they put this package together that's definitely of interest," said Brian Young, senior systems architect at Millennium.
Bob Abraham, president of Freeman Reports, believes that EMC is "warming up to tape." He said, "There's people inside the company that think there's a missed opportunity there, and they are starting to be heard."
An EMC spokesman said, "Tape can be a component of any ILM strategy. EMC is evaluating different ways to enhance our offerings in this area; Through Legato Software, we have relationships with all major tape suppliers to ensure that their products work well with our backup and recovery offerings."
A spokesman for StorageTek said that the two companies have performed interoperability testing for StorageTek's automated tape libraries with EMC's Symmetrix, Clariion and Celerra storage systems. "Large customers have tended to look to EMC for disk and StorageTek to back it up with tape," he said. "At last count StorageTek and EMC had approximately 300 joint customers."
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