EMC Corp., the world’s biggest maker of storage computers, is introducing software that makes it easier to manage and automate its own data-storage devices and those made by competitors such as NetApp Inc.
Called ViPR, the product uses an idea called software-defined storage in which the program acts like a universal remote control, providing a common way to operate different machines, said Jeremy Burton, an EMC executive vice president. ViPR will also let users manage so-called object storage, which is better suited for many new Internet applications.
EMC, which last month reported first-quarter earnings that trailed analysts’ estimates, is working to find new ways to profit from the storage market as companies slow purchases, particularly of more expensive products. Customers who use EMC machines and also those from NetApp and commodity, unbranded hardware from Asia, are looking for software that lets them easily manage rapidly expanding stores of information.
The company is showing ViPR at its EMC World conference in Las Vegas this month and it will be available in the second half of the year.
To build ViPR, EMC hired Amitabh Srivastava, who previously led Microsoft Corp.’s Azure cloud software and oversaw Windows operating system engineering efforts. ViPR needed to be similar to an operating system, which allows users to add devices like printers from various manufacturers in a common and consistent way, Burton said.
It also borrows from the virtualization software technology dominated by VMware Inc., which is majority-owned by EMC. That software allows companies to manage a pool of available servers and easily assign an application to use certain parts of the server. Users can also move applications or expand them to more server space.
It’s a shift for EMC to focus this effort so much on software, said Burton. Typically EMC has sold programs with these kinds of capabilities only bundled with its own machines. Burton said more and more customers have data centers with multiple kinds of boxes, particularly as companies like Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. buy commodity machines.
“This is a pretty aggressive move for us to put software first and foremost in our strategy to manage storage,” he said. “We think a lot of people will buy the storage and software together but for the first time you have a choice.”