A bigger byte

A few decades ago data storage was discussed in terms of megabytes – now the exabyte looms large for vendors such as EMC. Duncan MacRae dropped in to the firm's Storage World to hear its plans for super-sized storage.

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By  Duncan MacRae Published  July 25, 2007

"Our entire marketing strategy is built on what we call customer campaign and there are a number of different customer campaigns - in fact, there are eight and they tie in with different parts of our business. So there is a campaign focused on storing more intelligently.

"There's another campaign focused on securing critical assets. Another focused on getting business value out of enterprise adaptation. Different customers are in different situations."

Robidoux says what resonates with any one customer or any one city will vary to some degree. She gives the example of a very mature customer with a sophisticated IT infrastructure and centralised storage, who would probably be looking at how they can tier different levels of storage.

"That would be very different to a customer that doesn't have a strong, centralised storage infrastructure," adds Robidoux. "Maybe some of the smaller customers will be focused on consolidation. Just plain storage consolidation and we find customers like that all over the world who are still using direct attached storage, for example.

Robidoux feels the company has already made its name in protection. This, she said, goes all the way back to EMC's first protection product which was developed in response to its customers in Wall Street who required a business continuity solution immediately following the 1994 bombing of the World Trade Centre.

Since then, unfortunately, the company has had plenty of opportunities in the Middle East to prove the abilities of these solutions to get its customers back on-line or actually avoid a restart in the first place. One of the things that EMC has learned in the region is that the technology is critical but when people are enduring wars or natural disasters it is not just as simple as recovering information and getting back on-line.

"It's where your remote site is, who's there, how do get your people there," Robidoux explains. "Local people, the people who know the most about the environment, are busy trying to save their lives, their families and homes. So as far as we are concerned the planning process is as important as anything - the end-to-end services that we wrap around the solutions."

The Clariion storage line - storage that runs on AC power so it can run in the field - is one example of an EMC solution tailor-made for regions such as the Middle East. These systems are rugged so they are mobile and can be leveraged in the field.

"Of course, you have software on top of that to enable you to enable you to recover data, replicate data off-site to disaster recovery, whether it's local or remote," Ader says. "So there are many different ways that our solutions can help customers in those kinds of conditions."

Overall, the company is more than satisfied with its performance in the Middle and is excited about the opportunities here that it says it will be able to take advantage of.

"As businesses in these markets look to grow to network storage - many of them may still be on older storage devices - it's really a market opportunity for us," Ader says. "In the Middle East, for example, businesses are now looking at different technologies, such as IP storage. This enables customers to get to network storage and leverage it without all the skills that they may otherwise need for smaller network devices."

This rapid development ties in nicely with the EMC momentum theme - constantly developing in preparation for what lies around the corner for businesses across the globe.

The time when we stop talking about enterprise data storage in terms of exabytes - and we start talking in terms of zettabytes (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes) - may not be too far off .

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