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IBM and EMC are swapping APIs, at long last.

The two companies have already forged API deals with just about every other major storage vendor around but could not come to terms on an IBM/EMC exchange. This ends with both companies deciding to fork over their storage system APIs, including future ones based on the SMI-S standard, although they warn that full API disclosure will take time. In addition, EMC has agreed to license programming interfaces from IBM to improve the links between IBM's mainframes and EMC's high-end arrays. This last bit gives IBM a nice new revenue stream.

IBM and EMC have not been the best of mates in the storage industry. While IBM's Tivoli storage software group has worked with EMC, its storage hardware group has given the folks from Hopkington the cold shoulder and vice versa.

The two vendors appear to have put their squabbles aside with customers' best interests at heart. Along with the API exchanges, the companies plan to provide better support to users with both IBM and EMC gear. Their shared support services will cover a wider range of servers and storage systems, and they plan to respond better to problems in shared installations.

The wording of their agreement indicates that it will take some time for IBM and EMC to hammer out the fine details of the API swap. So far, they have only created a "framework" for how the swap will pan out. However, a pride-swallowing exercise of this scale almost ensures the two will come through in due course.

Users can expect to see all of the bells and whistles from both IBM and EMC's storage software packages work on each others' hardware.

This deal continues a massive change of heart over at EMC. The company had vowed to crack competitors' APIs and handle storage management on its own under the once fabled WideSky program. EMC, however, has since killed off WideSky in favor of a standards-based management future.

On IBM's side, it's good to see the company opening up to EMC, as this should make life much more pleasant for end users. It's never good to have two of the biggest players in an industry at odds. ®

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