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IBM infiltrates EMC's storage systems

API swap pays off

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After years of trying, IBM has finally found a way for its own storage boxes to tap into those of EMC.

The method of the EMC pentration has not occured as first planned. IBM is using its TotalStorage SAN Volume Controller software to link IBM systems with EMC's Clariion and Symmetrix boxes. IBM once thought its magical SAN File System - aka Storage Tank - would be the first code to break EMC boxes wide open. But that wet dream dried up last October when the SAN File System actually arrived supporting only IBM gear. Years of hype and engineering hadn't paid off.

That said, IBM is quite proud of what it has achieved with SAN Volume Controller. The company also took a moment to tout its own engineering prowess over EMC's policy of improving software via acquisition (Legato, Documentum and VMware).

"While EMC has been busy acquiring software companies to help change the landscape, IBM has been busy updating, integrating and testing this software, leveraging the company's experience from five decades of storage technology innovation," IBM said.

IBM is convinced that Version 1.2 of the SAN Volume Controller will give it much more direct access into EMC's customer base. IBM/EMC customers can now pool their storage hardware together. IBM's SAN software makes it possible to modify volumes on either IBM or EMC hardware without requiring changes to a host application. Other updates in Version 1.2 include support for Windows Server 2003, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Advanced Server 3.0, Solaris 9 and VMware ESX Server 2.1.

IBM and EMC fought for years over their storage APIs, trying to block each other from reverse engineering their interfaces. Last year, however, the companies finally made peace, agreeing to swap APIs and move toward following SMI-S industry standard for storage software. IBM is not saying when the SAN File System will work with EMC hardware as well. It could happen as early as the middle of this year, according to statements made last year, but given past results, delays should be expected. ®

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