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EMC: Storage business still 'in fashion'

Company's capabilities in storage, virtualization and security bode well for cloud computing move, notes EMC's president for Asia-Pacific and Japan Steve Leonard.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

SINGAPORE--With people generating richer, more complex data such as YouTube videos, the need for server storage space, regardless of whether it is in the public or private sphere, remains a pressing requirement among companies, according to an EMC executive.

Steve Leonard, EMC's president for Asia-Pacific and Japan, pointed out Tuesday the need for storage facilities has not declined, despite companies moving away from the practice of provisioning for future storage needs which had been prevalent up till recent years. Storage growth have also been unaffected by trends such as cloud computing and virtualization.

"This is why storage is still in fashion and EMC is in a great place right now," he said in an interview with ZDNet Asia.

He noted, however, that there was a need to not only shrink the data volume but to improve the way it is being stored.

To this end, the organization has decided to acquire both Data Domain, which makes deduplication storage systems designed to cut costs and simplify data management, and Avamar Technologies, which specializes in information protection, recovery management and deduplication, with the aim of improving its capabilities in storage management, said Leonard.

"Deduplication is one of the areas we are focusing in that will help us shrink the size of data currently being generated today and we will see more of this in 2010," he explained.

Developing 'best-in-class' partnerships
Another key focus for EMC in the coming year, said Leonard, is its recently announced Virtual Computing Environment (VCE) coalition with Cisco Systems and EMC-owned VMware.

According to him, the company was one of the first in the industry to converge security with its staple server and storage offerings after its acquisition of security firm RSA in 2006. EMC, shared Leonard, is presently looking to better harness the strengths in security that its "best-in-class" partners possess and provide a "safer private cloud environment" for the coalition's customers.

Security, authentication and compliance are some of the main challenges cloud computing providers are facing as many potential customers adopt a wait-and-see approach, Leonard acknowledged, adding that EMC is working with governments and companies globally to work on mitigating these challenges.

Banks and financial institutions, in particular, have to tread cautiously in their cloud computing initiatives as they possess critical information that are required to remain within a particular country's borders, he said. Telcos also need to be careful in terms of "determining when and how much information can be transferred from one country to another".

Par Botes, EMC's CTO for Asia-Pacific and Japan, added that it would be easy for organizations to assume that cloud computing was a number of existing technologies cobbled together under the guise of a new name, but it was not so in reality.

"What people should understand is that for enterprises who have previously spent a significant amount of money to build up their data center infrastructure, it's important for them to have the ability to continue using those equipment, yet virtualize their storage space and have compatible products that can propel these companies into cloud," Botes noted. "It is building for the future, but with the past in mind."

Before looking to utilize cloud computing services, however, organizations need to first consolidate resources and undergo server virtualization, Botes pointed out. "Most people talk about the end point, which is cloud, but neglect to consider about the steps before entering into cloud," he pointed out.

Cloud helps lower barriers
Leonard noted that the pace of the Asia-Pacific region's cloud development, could steer it to become not just an "importer of innovations", but a key exporter too.

Besides China and India--places where EMC has made significant investments recently--more mature markets such as Australia are also looking to implement cloud technologies into their business processes, and these are driving up early adoption rates in the region, he said.

That, he explained, meant a new telco in an emerging market would now, by tapping on cloud services such as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS), be able to meet customers' needs faster and more efficiently. They would have skipped "from step A to step D" in terms of building its internal infrastructure, a feat that entities such as SingTel, two decades earlier, could not achieve, he pointed out.

"With wireless Internet driving growth in emerging markets…startup companies can buy services, infrastructure and software as and when they need to, without the huge outlay that they would otherwise have to spend on basic infrastructure," said Leonard.

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