HDS plays down API swaps with IBM or EMC

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ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

The prospects of cooperation among high-end storage makers turned flat last week when Hitachi Data Systems - one of the triad of suppliers in the market

sector - ruled itself out of any near-term technology access swaps with its rivals,

Tim Stammers writes


Although HDS said that the latest version of its HiCommand storage management software will now actively manage - and not just monitor - mid-range T3
hardware from Sun Microsystems as well its own arrays, the Hitachi subsidiary is not currently planning to go further down the cross-vendor route.

Integrating hardware from IBM Corp or EMC Corp would be of little value to customers, it said.

"That's all we're doing for now. None of those others are on the immediate roadmap," said Kevin Sampson, director of marketing for software at

In October HDS began talks with EMC to swap APIs for access to the controllers in each storage arrays. Since then both companies have said that they have been unhappy with what the other has been offering, and that the negotiations have been very difficult. Sampson's comments last week indicated that the talks
continue to be bogged down, and may be off entirely.

"It could happen under the right business conditions, and if we got the right relationships. But it would mean a quid pro quo on the API front," he said. EMC
declined to comment, but repeated previous comments that even without APIs it can still engineer a back-door entry into rival's array controllers. This
however will be harder, as EMC admits.

There have been no negotiations between EMC and IBM concerning API swaps. Sampson said he did not know the status of any negotiations between HDS and
IBM, but made it clear that exchanging technology access with either IBM or EMC is a low priority.

"I've yet to have a customer demand that HiCommand work with the [EMC] Symmetrix or [IBM] Shark. I can't tell you that we've ever lost a deal because
of that," Sampson said. "We could do it, but would we, and would customers buy it? Most of them have bought into Tivoli or BMC and what they'd really like is
for the hardware to work better with those products," he said.

"What we get requests for is third-party software that can manage all three [HDS, IBM and EMC] vendors' hardware, with options for customers to switch between suppliers of that software if they want to," Sampson said.

HDS has said before that this is what HiCommand is intended for - to act as middleware connecting its hardware to the products of the around 48 ISVs which have signed HiCommand licenses. But in October, it said there was a "pretty good chance" it would swap APIs with IBM, and that there would be a "trade-off" with IBM.

The integration of Sun's T3 arrays into HiCommand will allow a HiCommand console to actively manage volumes on the Sun hardware, HDS said, and perform tasks such as assigning and securing LUNs, or allocating resources to logical groups. "Certainly not just link and launch," Sampson said.

The reason that HDS has been able to integrate the T3 into version 2.0 of HiCommand is its reselling deal with Sun Microsystems. Under that Sun offers its customers re-badged versions of HDS' high-end Lightning hardware.

HDS said Sun requested the integration, and that over 40% of the 48-odd HiCommand licenses sold to date have been into Sun accounts. Version 2.0 of HiCommand will begin shipping at the end of the month, when HDS will also begin reselling Sun's HighGround Storage Resource Management software.

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