IBM sneers at EMC's storage virtualisation

EMC's forthcoming Invista product will allow IT managers to get to grips with virtual storage, but rival IBM was quick to put the boot in

Storage vendor EMC this week released details about its upcoming entry into the storage virtualisation market, provoking an uncharacteristically pugnacious response from seasoned campaigner, IBM.

EMC said its Invista software will leverage 'intelligent' switches — which can independently find an optimum location and direct data to it — to create virtual volumes in a SAN. This allows users to move devices in and out of a SAN without necessarily being forced to pay attention to the physical location of each piece of data.

In contrast with EMC's history of proprietary solutions, customers will be able to integrate Invista with hardware and software from a range of vendors through the use of open APIs.

EMC's technology will compete with existing solutions primarily from IBM and Hitachi Data Systems, although each vendor's architecture takes a different route to provide storage virtualisation.

Although Invista is still in beta testing mode around five global sites, and availability only slated for the third quarter of the year, IBM has moved quickly to stifle any potential interest in the product.

A three-page statement to ZDNet UK sister site ZDNet Australia , IBM questioned EMC's history on virtualisation, saying: "For more than two years, EMC has waffled on the need for storage virtualisation.

"As EMC grew, they never invested or developed usable virtualisation technologies, and while they have been successful in proprietary box-centric storage, their arrival to the arena of storage virtualisation is almost certainly a case of too little, too late."

On that arrival, IBM was terse: "Here comes the storage industry's version of a cap gun."

IBM virtualisation spokesperson Gary Barker said his company saw EMC as "a strong competitor", and admitted the statement was a little dramatic.

"It's not something that's typical of IBM in the past," he said. "It sounds like we're a tad confident doesn't it?"

Barker said IBM in general was a proponent of open standards, but he stopped short of welcoming EMC's move to open its APIs.

"Of course we don't like to see any of our competition gaining advantage by doing what we're already doing," he said.

EMC Australia marketing director Jordan Reizes said IBM might see Invista as a threat due to its new willingness to work with other vendors on solutions, as well as a lack of scalability in his firm's own virtualisation solution.

However, Barker denied the company had any scalability issues and questioned the breadth of Invista's multi-vendor support. He added that IBM currently had over 1,000 customers using its virtualisation technology in a production environment.

Renai LeMay reported from Sydney for ZDNet Australia. For more ZDNet Australia stories, click here.